Nagpur receives 5,652 vials of Remdesivir due to Bombay HC's intervention, Centre asked to maintain oxygen supply from Bhilai Steel plant
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A division bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Shreeram Modak of the Bombay High Court in Nagpur came down heavily on the state, while hearing a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the shortage of oxygen and non-availability of Remdesivir, Tocilizumab injections, and hospital beds in Nagpur district, and gave it three-hour window till 8 pm on Wednesday to supply 10,000 vials of Remdesivir to Nagpur district.

The bench which took up the PIL again at 8 pm was informed by the state authorities that that Nagpur has received 5,652 vials of Remdesivir on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a further 6,752 vials would be made available by Thursday night.

The bench was also informed by advocate Tushar Mandlekar appearing for an intervenor, that the Union on April 18 had decided to reduce the oxygen supply to the state from Bhilai steel plant from 110 metric tonnes to 60 metric tonnes. To which the Justice Shukre remarked,

"This communication, we think, has hit the state." Justice Shukre added, “The Union should be giving more oxygen to Maharashtra in view of the fact that 40 per cent of cases are from here. We fail to understand why was the supply reduced. We stay that communication."

HC which was furious at the lackadaisical approach by the authorities had instructed the authorities that they were at liberty to take help from police and even raid all the depots in the city to ensure Remdesivir was supplied. The bench was irked over the fact that its earlier orders to the state to provide 10,000 Remdesivir vials wasn't complied with. The bench accordingly said the authorities must first comply with its order and said it would again hear the matter at 8 pm on Wednesday night.

"Authorities have been asked to ensure Remdesivir is given to the city without fail. The judges have asked the authorities to take police help and even raid, if required, at depots of these vials," advocate Tushar Mandlekar confirmed.

The bench went to the extent of stating that it was they are ashamed of being part of this "evil and nasty society" for failing to help Covid19 patients get basic medical assistance.

Justice Shukre went on to observe, “There is no solace to patients in Nagpur and in the state. Everybody might be getting calls for beds, oxygen, remdesivir etc. But you won't do anything. You won't follow our orders. But you would shirk your responsibility.” “If you can't be ashamed of yourself. We are ashamed of ourselves for being part of such a nasty and evil society. We are a nasty society because we aren't helping patients in the state,” further said Justice Shukre.

The bench rapped the state after perusing two affidavits, one by the deputy collector and the other by the joint commissioner, food and drugs administration (FDA). While the deputy collector had stated that the vials weren't available for supply to Nagpur district, the joint commissioner had stated that it wasn't the "procuring agency" to procure the Remdesivir injections.

The bench came down in this fashion after the advocate appearing for the state MG Bhangde said, “Companies manufacturing Remdesivir aren’t located in Maharashtra. As far as government hospitals are concerned, the daily requirement of Remdesivir is given to Haffkine Institute as it is the nodal agency to acquire drugs and medical equipment for government hospitals.”

As far as private hospitals are concerned, there is a godown at Wadi in Nagpur. The godown manager sends information to collector, who manages the data. The collector then distributes Remdesivir as per the requirements of the private hospitals, further said Bhangde

“State does not have any control on sale or manufacture of Remdesivir. There is no state level committee that looks into the distribution of Remdesivir. State has no role to play in distribution of this injection among private hospitals,” added Bhangde

Justice Shukre pointed out a statement from an affidavit the state had filed that certain number of injections were not available for Nagpur. “Prima facie, the impression is that the authorities have started acting callously, and have started shirking their responsibility. Deputy collector says there is non-availability of injections. This is highly objectionable. We might take action against him,” noted Justice Shukre and added, “Isn't it the FDA's job to find out a state level solution? It is clear that these authorities aren't doing their job properly. They aren't complying with our orders. They don't want to comply it seems.”

“How can the FDA commissioner say that it isn't the procurement agency. Then whose bloody business is it?,” questioned Justice Shukre

Justice Shukre further said, “Affidavit (filed by the state) doesn't say how Thane collector got more vials than Nagpur on April 16, when there was an uneven distribution of the vials?.”

The joint commissioner of FDA appeared before the bench and was questioned by Justice Shukre. “Doesn't FDA have control over Haffkine institute?”, questioned Justice Shukre to which the joint commissioner said, “Not us. But the State does” Justice Shukre then questioned him again, “Aren't you under the state? Aren't you part of the state?”

Justice Shukre was scathing when he said, “You have joined hands with officials in #Mumbai and left patients of rest of the Maharashtra high and dry. Especially of Nagpur. We won't mind if our orders aren't complied. We only want that the patients must not suffer. They shouldn't be neglected. Today we want the vials to reach Nagpur at any cost.”

Meanwhile, the bench was informed that in Bhandara, for 1200 patients only 145 vials of remdesivir injections supplied.”

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