The Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni, on Thursday, expressed shock while noting that 82 people had succumbed to Mucormycosis, or Black Fungus, within 36 hours across Maharashtra. The bench even slammed the union government for having a non-effective allocation policy for the distribution of Amphotericin-B to all the states.
The bench has ordered the authorities to ensure that there is no single death for the want of essential drugs.
When the matter was called out for hearing, Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni told the judges that there are 4,157 active cases in the state out of the total 23,254 cases in India.
There are around 600 deaths as of June 9. The judges noted that, in the last hearing held on June 7, there were 518 deaths. By June 9, the number rose to 600.
"Mr. AG you have to bring down this number. We can't accept this situation wherein 82 patients have died within 36 hours. This isn't acceptable at any cost," Chief Justice Datta remarked.
The bench noted that there is discrepancy in the allocation policy of the union government, wherein Maharashtra, despite having 25 per cent of total cases in India, is not given adequate supply of Amphotericin-B vials. "In Manipur, there is a single case, but the supply is 500 vials. Similarly, for single cases in Tripura and Nagaland, there is no supply at all," Justice Kulkarni noted. "We think your allocation policy isn't well founded. You need to reconsider your policy. You should have a proper policy wherein allocation is need based and sufficient to all the states," Chief Justice Datta said.
At this, ASG Anil Singh submitted that, at present, the policy is based on the caseload of each state. "No Mr ASG. You reconsider your policy. The policy must be realistic. We don't want patients to suffer. There shouldn't be any death for the want of drugs," the chief justice responded.
The judges, while noting the acute shortage of the drug, sought to know if the union government has taken any steps to import the drug. To this, the ASG told the bench that steps are being taken to enhance the production.
"Why don't you (union) approach countries that have less cases, but are having sufficient production? You can seek their help and import the drugs in bulk?" CJ Datta said. The chief justice further noted that the domestic
production of the drugs is insufficient and must be enhanced at the earliest. "Why we say so is because our aim is to protect lives. We can't accept deaths for the want of medicines," the chief justice said, while ordering the union Health Ministry to file a fresh affidavit.