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‘Find out whether Tocilizumab is an alternative to Remdesivir’, Bombay High Court tells Maharashtra government

Bombay HC Chief Justice Datta also stated that three alternative drugs work better than Tocilizumab for Covid-19

On Thursday, the division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni heard multiple Public Interest Litigations (PILs) regarding the management of COVID-19 in Maharashtra. The issues covered by the PILs included frequent hospital fires, availability of Remdesivir, electric crematoriums, the surge of COVID-19 in prisons, etc.

During the hearing, advocates for the petitioners brought up various shortages, shortages of medicines like Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, etc. Upon hearing this, Chief Justice Datta referred to an SC order, stating that three alternative drugs work better than Tocilizumab.

In reference to the Remedsivir shortage, the Chief Justice gave another suggestion. The Chief Justice asked the Attorney General to find out whether Tocilizumab is an alternative to Remdesivir. And if it is, wide publicity can be given, the CJ said.

It may be noted that Dexamethasone is a steroid, while Remdesivir is an antiviral medication. The cost of Dexamethasone is significantly lower than Remdesivir, and if it is found to be effective, it will lower the cost of Covid-19 treatment. But this is a matter to be dealt with by medical experts based on studies and trials. According to currently available information, Dexamethasone should be administered only in case of serious Covid-19 patients.

Later in the hearing, the Chief Justice stated that no one can be allowed to profit from the sale of essential drugs and directed the Central and State governments to “put their foot down”. “India is not a country for foreign companies to make profits like this,” said Chief Justice Datta.

Chief Justice Datta said that the court will monitor the Covid situation in Maharashtra throughout the summer vacation of courts. Next hearing on COVID-19 PILs in Bombay HC to held Wednesday.

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