On being told by the Centre that Remdesivir can only be administered at hospitals, the high court observed that when oxygen and beds were not available in hospitals for coronavirus patients, then how will they get the drug.
The Delhi High Court Tuesday asked the Centre and AAP government as to why there was Remdesivir drug scarcity in the national capital when the medication was being widely prescribed for COVID-19 patients whose numbers have surged hugely in the past few days.
On being told by the Centre that Remdesivir can only be administered at hospitals, the high court observed that when oxygen and beds were not available in hospitals for coronavirus patients, then how will they get the drug. Justice Prathiba M Singh made the Health Ministry and the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) a party in the matter and asked their lawyers to come with instructions on why there was a scarcity of the drug in Delhi.
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A similar direction was issued to additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal, appearing for the Delhi government, and the matter was listed for hearing post lunch by the court. “Entire city is suffering as they are not getting this drug. Entire procurement is done by the government. Then why is this happening,” the court asked Aggarwal when the hearing commenced.
Aggarwal said that Delhi does not have the facilities to manufacture the drug and it is obtained from other states who sell it only after meeting their own demands. He also told the court that a large stock of the drug had expired in February this year as it was not being actively prescribed by doctors.
The court, however, did not agree with the submission regarding the medicine not being prescribed, saying the drug was being prescribed by doctors everywhere. The court also asked, “Was it not permitted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)?”
The court was hearing a plea moved by a lawyer who is suffering from COVID-19 and was able to get only three out of the six doses of Remdesivir required by him. In his plea, he has sought directions to the Delhi government to provide him with the remaining doses of the drug.
During the pre-noon hearing, the central government told the court that the drug can only be administered in a hospital setting and therefore, how were people getting it from pharmacies. To this, the court said, “There are no beds or oxygen available in the hospitals. How will people get the drug from there?”