Amid the sudden surge in the COVID-19 cases across India, the Bombay High Court (HC) division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GD Kulkarni on Thursday heard an advocate's PIL on lack of COVID-19 essentials such as Remdesivir, medical oxygen, and hospital beds in the state of Maharashtra.
Advocate General of Maharashtra Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said that 7 companies have entered into contracts with manufacturers of the anti-viral drug, Remdesivir. Out of these 7 manufacturers, 1 company is in Maharashtra. Stating that before December 2020, all the manufacturers had taken appropriate steps to ramp up the manufacturing, Maharashtra AG said that since the number of Coronavirus cases was low in January and February, the production of Remdesivir was reduced. The manufacturing cycle of production of this drug is a minimum of 21 days, he added.
The Maharashtra AG said, "Sudden steep rise in demand of Remdesivir drug has arisen. Indiscriminate use of this drug by the patients and doctors have also resulted in its shortage. Another reason for the shortage is that COVID-19 positive patients are insisting on Remdesivir."
Speaking further about the shortage of Remdevisir all across the country, Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said that 6 vials of Remdesivir are required per patients in serious cases, but every family has brought 30 vials to prepare for an emergency, due to which, a state of panic is being created. Informing that the government on Wednesday spoke about the state-wise allocation of this drug. He further mentioned, "It is a medical misconception that Remdesivir is a life-saving drug."
Meanwhile, Central government lawyer ASG Anil Singh said, "Yes, it's like if a person is likely to need O2, he/she will not require it if Remdesivir will be given on time. Justice GD Kulkarni, while requesting the media to not create a situation of panic, said, "Please do appreciate that we are passing through a critical period. It is not the time for you to make sensational news and jack up your TRP. Sometimes, we make comments out of anger and despair, don't sensationalise it."
Suggesting that there should be a portal for getting access to Remdesivir, Kulkarni said, "We shouldn't expect the patients or their relatives or the health staff to run around for searching for the drug. It is the duty of the state to make it available."
In response to this, Maharashtra AG said that he will prepare a flowchart on how Remdesivir is reaching the actual user. When the Bombay High Court asked if nodal officers have been appointed to overlook the distribution of the anti-viral drug, the state AG said, "Assistant Commissioner of FDA has been appointed at the district level, at division level the Joint Commissioner of FDA and at the State Level, the FDA Commissioner himself."
As India continues to battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, Maharashtra so far has recorded over 40,27,827 positive cases, out of which, 32,68,449 have successfully recovered, while 61,911 have died. As per the latest reports from MoHFW, in the past 24 hours, 67,468 new cases, 54,985 fresh recoveries and 568 deaths have been reported. Currently, the total number of active cases in the state is 6,97,467.