Amid COVID-19 case spike, Remdesivir row, Maharashtra FDA chief Abhimanyu Kale transferred
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Mumbai: The Maharashtra government shunted out Food & Drugs Administration (FDA) Commissioner Abhimanyu Kale on Tuesday. The move comes in the wake of the controversy over the procurement of anti-viral drug Remdesivir by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in Mumbai from Bruck Pharma in Daman. Kale’s transfer also comes in the backdrop of war of words between the Maha Vikas Aghadi partners and the BJP over the sale and distribution of Remdesivir by private parties despite a government ban. Parimal Singh has been handed charge of the state FDA.

The controversy erupted last weekend, after BJP leaders rushed to the BKC police station on Saturday night, to question the summoning of Bruck Pharma director Rajesh Dokania for inquiry about 60,000 vials of Remdesivir. The BJP alleged that police and the state government were harassing the pharma company director, which police refuted, saying that the inquiry was conducted in good faith and based on necessary input. It was done amid complaints relating to rampant hoarding and black-marketing of Remdesivir, especially in view of its rising demand in the pandemic.

BJP leaders had argued that the Maharashtra FDA had permitted the consignment for marketing. However, the FDA had later clarified that approval had been given to Bruck Pharma to supply the Remdesivir vials to Maharashtra Government for supply and trade in the state only after permission was granted by the Daman FDA.

The Foods & Drugs Administration (FDA) Minister Dr Rajendra Shingane on Tuesday admitted that the 60,000 vials of Remdesivir injections procured by the BJP were intended for the Maharashtra government.

“I was aware of it. The BJP leaders had met me at my house along with the manufacturers' representatives. They offered to help us procure Remdesivir stocks for the state government and I agreed to it,” Dr. Shingane said. He added that the injection stock could not have been for any other purpose and even the BJP leaders had assured him accordingly.

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