FPJ Exclusive: Maharashtra govt cracks whip on Remdesivir black marketeers

Unhealthy Practices 

- Remdesivir vial which costs Rs 4,500 is being sold at Rs 50,000 per vial

- Private chemists are not allowed to sell Remdesivir

- Relatives of some patients are hoarding vials of Remdesivir  

The Maharashtra Government has cracked a whip to curb the black marketing of Remdesivir,which is being sold at a whopping Rs 50,000 per vial when its actual MRP is Rs 4,500 per vial. The State Food and Drug Administration and Home Departments have formed a special squad to take strict action on black marketers. In an exclusive interview with the Free Press Journal, Minister of FDA Dr Rajendra Singane explains the government's strategy to ensure price control and easy availability of Remdesivir and other drugs to treat Covid-19.

Q: There is rampant black marketing of Remdesivir. What is the government’s plan to tackle this menace?

A: The government has received complaints from various quarters with regard to black marketing of Remdesivir and its shortage. The government has taken a serious note. I personally paid surprise visits to several shops. The government will deal firmly against those indulged in black marketing. The government will not tolerate such bad practices. The FDA cannot work alone to nab hoarders. Hence, the FDA and police department will form a special squad and initiate action.

Q: How will you ensure the Remdesivir supply to the genuine patients ?

A: The FDA is introducing few checks and balances. It will now be mandatory that the sale of Remdesivir will not be allowed without the Doctor's prescription, Covid 19 positive report, patient's Aadhar card and contact number. It was found that the patient's relatives have purchased several vials from various chemists, which was unwarranted. There is a possibility the excess vials may be sold at inflated rates. It was also found that in some cases the purchase was done on xerox copy and not on original doctor’s prescription. Therefore, the FDA and the Public Health Department are jointly working out a system, where this will be avoided and through an online system chemists can keep a record to avoid excess purchases.

Q: The issue is short supply of Remdesivir. How will the FDA address it?

A: I have convened a meeting with Remdesivir producers Cipla and Hetero and the  distributors on Saturday to discuss availability of the vial not just in Mumbai but across the state. At present, BMC and some hospital attached medical stores have some stock. Private chemists are not allowed to sell Remdesivir. I will ask Cipla and Hetero to increase the production so that the supply will be streamlined. FDA's job is to keep an eye on price, quality control and the adequate availability of drugs.

Q: Sale of face masks and hand sanitizers at inflated rates is another issue. Has the government capped their prices?

A: The FDA and Public Health Department will jointly cap the prices so that consumers will not be exploited. These items should be treated as essential commodities.

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