The Bombay High Court recently has directed the State of Maharashtra to establish a protocol for making available essential drugs like Amphotericin B and Tocilizumab, deals with question of the private supply of essential drugs by political and film personalities.
A division bench comprising Justice Sunil P. Deshmukh and Justice G.S. Kulkarni on Wednesday has said that it is awaiting mechanisms declared by the State Government in consultation with the Central Government, which would cater to the urgent demands of essential drugs like Amphotericin B and Tocilizumab at the places/hospitals where they are needed the most.
The court was hearing a batch of public interest litigations raising several vital issues concerning the agony of the citizens arising from the present pandemic caused by Covid-19.
The petitioners, inter-alia, are aggrieved by;
- shortage of supply of the drug ‘Remdesivir’.
- shortage of supply of oxygen
- ‘Bed management
- Waiting period for RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Tests.
On 12 May, the court had had called upon the State Government as also the Central Government to look into the grievances of the petitioners that some political and film personalities have indulged in the supply of the drug Remdesivir, when such supply could not have been undertaken by any private persons, as the distribution of the drug was completely within the domain of the Central Government and the State Government.
In this context, Mr.Kumbhakoni, Learned Advocate General has stated that two persons namely Mr.Zeeshan Siddique and Mr.Sonu Sood had attempted to make such drug available as seen from social media.
Mr. Kumbhakoni submitted, “In so far as Mr.Zeeshan Siddique is concerned it is stated that he made this drug available from one BDR Foundation, which is a registered public trust of which Mr.Dharmesh Shah is a trustee, who is associated with BDR Pharmaceuticals. Mr.Kumbhakoni has stated that a criminal case is registered against BDR foundation and its trustees before the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate at Mazgaon.”
He further stated, “In so far as Mr.Sonu Sood is concerned, it is stated that he made this drug available from one Lifeline Medicare Hospitals situated at Goregaon (East), who procured the drug from CIPLA. He states that further inquiry in that regard is in progress. Mr.Kumbhakoni has stated that details in this regard would be placed on record on affidavit to be filed on behalf of the State Government.”
He further assured the court that the State would look into the issue of complicity of such persons aiding supply of such drugs from extra legal sources.
Mr.Kumbhakoni next made submissions on the issue as to whether habitual smokers are at a high risk of COVID-19 infection. He said; “a study has been undertaken and completed by experts from the TATA Memorial Centre who have studied about 31 to 40 papers on the subject, of experts from different countries, who have opined that smokers are at a high risk/more vulnerable, of being infected by the Corona Virus.”
Mr.Kumbhakoni further submitted that efforts are made to prepare a dashboard which would be dynamic and a real time dashboard for all medical requirements throughout the State of Maharashtra. He states that information in this regard would be placed on record in the State’s affidavit on the next date.
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While concluding the order, the court said; “We sound a note of caution to the authorities that further efforts are required to be made to establish a protocol for making available essential drugs like Amphotericin B and Tocilizumab. The real test being that such medicines are available to the needy patients. We await such mechanism being declared by the State Government in consultation with the Central Government which would cater to the urgent demands at the places/hospitals where it is needed the most .”
The matter is listed for further hearing on June 25.