The spread of COVID-19 has left the country’s healthcare system overwhelmed. Many states like Maharashtra have been complaining of facing an acute shortage of medical supplies like oxygen and the much sought-after COVID-19 drug, Remdasivir. Despite this shortage, many Bollywood stars and politicians have offered to provide oxygen cylinders and drugs like Remdasivir and Tocilizubam to patients in response to their plea on social media.
Now, the Bombay HC has pulled up the state government, seeking a response on how, despite the state facing an acute shortage, some famous personalities are being able to procure and distribute Remdesivir freely.
The order was passed during the hearing of PILs on the coronavirus situation on Wednesday but published on the HC website on Thursday evening. When the judges were hearing the plea, Advocate Rajesh Inamdar annexed several Tweets from Bollywood actor and self-claimed ‘messiah’ Sonu Sood and NCP’s Zeeshan Siddiqui, distributing Remdesivir vials within hours of such pleas from anywhere in the country.
A two-judge bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni said that as per previous orders of the Supreme Court and several High Courts, the drug was supposed to be allocated to states only by the Union government. Then how are some celebrities and politicians easily procuring and distributing the drug in response to pleas on Twitter?
‘This can amount to black marketing’, Bombay HC seeks response from Maha Govt
“If Remdesivir is being allocated by the central government to the state, then how the same can be privately available for distribution at the hands of such political and film personalities”, the court asked in the order.
Justice GS Kulkarni asked in court whether this can amount to black marketing. “Whether this would amount to hoarding, illegal stocking, and illegal distribution”? the bench said, asking the Maharashtra state government to submit a response.
Adding that such a parallel system of distribution of anti-COVID drugs might cause “serious prejudice” to patients in urgent need, the judges noted: “Also, such personalities making the drug available privately raises a grave question as to its equitable distribution in a system/regime which is set into motion for its allocation.”
It also raised its concerns on how some unscrupulous persons too may take advantage of this for making money.
Saying so, the court asked the Maharashtra government and Centre to file a reply affidavit by May 19 as to how Remdesivir was being “parallelly distributed by political and film personalities”.
Maharashtra plays politics over supplies of Remdesivir
It is pertinent to note here that last month, the Maharashtra Government had accused the central government of discriminating against the state on supplies of Remdesivir. Moreover, Maharashtra’s Minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik had launched a scathing attack on the opposition party in Maharashtra accusing them of hoarding Remdesivir- an antiviral drug being used for Covid treatment, by sourcing it from Bruck Pharma.
BJP leader Kirit Somaiya had, however, diffused the baseless allegations made by Nawab Malik. Somaiya had tweeted a copy of the official approval letter signed by the Commissioner of Food and Drugs Administration- Maharashtra State, giving a go-ahead to the distribution of Remdesivir.