Bombay HC seeks measures to make people aware of availability of Covid drugs

The court asked the petitioner to make the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) a party to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking that medicines for Covid-19 treatment be directly delivered to hospitals and quarantine centres.

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said that some measures can be taken to make information available to the public as to where medicines and injections for Covid-19 patients are stocked and the same can be published.

The court asked the petitioner to make the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) a party to a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking that medicines for Covid-19 treatment be directly delivered to hospitals and quarantine centres.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by Jayesh Mirani, president of NGO All Maharashtra Human Rights Welfare Association, through advocate Prashant Pandey.

The plea stated that Covid-19 patients were dying as they could not avail the medicines and sought direction to the state government to make medicines required for treating Covid-19 patients, including Remdesivir, Actemra injections and FabiFlu tablets available at government and private hospitals and also at medical stores.

The PIL said that since important medicines required to treat critical Covid-19 patients are available only with six suppliers in Mumbai, many patients are deprived or availing treatment.

“Patient’s relatives or caregivers need to procure the medicines and have to pay more than the maximum retail price on many occasions. If the drugs were instead made available at Covid-19 treatment facilities, much time would be saved and immediate care can be given to the patients…” advocate Pandey had submitted.

As per court’s September 18 directions, the Maharashtra government submitted an affidavit stating that over 2 lakh Remdisivir injections were distributed by 307 distributors and hospitals between April 1 and September 25 in Mumbai. Moreover, nearly 3.2 lakh strips of Favipiravir tablets were distributed at 183 hospitals during the same period.

The state government also said that between April and September this year, 87 inquiries for Remdesivir and 13 for Tocilizumab injections were made on helpline numbers and the demands were catered to.

The petitioner on Tuesday said that over 100 persons were dying everyday in the city due to non-availability of these injections and the claim of only 87 inquiries made by public was unbelievable.

Pandey said the unavailability of injection on the first day of admission results in 15 per cent damage to the lungs of Covid-19 patients.

He added that the system devised by the BMC of calling the medical officer, who would dispatch the injection the next day, causes delay and by then the lungs of the patient get damaged by 30 per cent.

The petitioner sought directions from the court to expedite the process of providing the injections by the civic authority.

The bench said it would first hear the BMC and asked the petitioner to make the civic authority a party to the case. “The BMC and concerned departments of the state must work in tandem to ensure that all these drugs remain available easily. Some measures can be taken to make information available to the public at large as to where and how medicines are stocked, made available and at what prices etc,” the court said.

The court posted further hearing in the matter to Thursday.

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