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Delhi HC examines pleas to cap Covid test prices

Our Bureau. New Delhi | Updated on May 03, 2021

‘Ensure sale of Remdesivir in domestic market by all pharma companies’

The Delhi High Court, on Monday, asked the Centre and various pharma majors to respond to a PIL seeking that all drug firms making Remdesivir, used in Covid-19 treatment, be allowed to sell it in the domestic market.

Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh issued notice to the Health Ministry, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, Director General of Foreign Trade, and various pharma companies such as Cipla, Zydus and Cadila, seeking their stand on the plea which claims only a handful of such firms are allowed to sell the medicine in the domestic market.

The remaining companies were involved in manufacturing the drug for export, petitioner Dincur Bajaj said, adding that since export of Remdesivir has been banned by the Centre, the companies that were producing it for export be permitted to manufacture and sell it in the domestic market.

Bajaj claimed that there are more than 25 companies in India that manufacture the medicine, but only six to eight of them are permitted to sell it in the domestic market and the rest were producing it for exports alone.

The plea, filed through advocate Amit Saxena and Imran Ali, said: “It is pertinent to mention that the scarcity of Remdesivir is causing its extensive black-marketing and the black marketers are charging prices up to ₹1,00,000 per vial, due to its non-availability.”

During the hearing, the Central government maintained that the Supreme Court, in its order dated April 30, has dealt with the issue of sale of essential medicines and has issued directions to the Centre in this regard.

Saxena, opposed the contention, saying the Apex Court’s order primarily deals with sale of vaccines. The petition has also said that huge stocks of the medicine are lying at the ports for being exported and the same can be sold in the domestic market.

Cap test price

Simultaneously, the same bench issued notices to the Delhi Government on a plea seeking directions to cap the price of High Resolution Computerised Tomography (HRCT), which is used for detecting the presence and severity of Covid-19 infection in the lungs.

The notices were issued by Chief Justice Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh on a PIL, which said that for detection of Covid-19 among suspected/ probable patients, the most widely recommended test is RT-PCR. However, on several occasions, a suspected Covid patient, thought he may have tested negative in Rt-PCR test, has indeed contracted Covid-19 infection which could only be later detected through HRTC scan, said the petition. Referring to media reports, the petition said that during the ongoing surge in Covid-19 cases, the number of RT-PCR negative tests and the criticality of the subsequent HRTC scan is quite high. Hence, getting HRTC done for immediate and proper diagnosis and management of Covid-19 patients is crucial. The germane issue in the petition was that the cost of the HRTC test in Delhi is unregulated and very high – between ₹5,000 to ₹6,500.

“As such, regulation of price of the same has become the need of an hour. That in light of the present gruesome circumstances in Delhi, regulating the price of HRCT, becomes all imperative and necessary,” the petition said.

He said regulating price is essential for relevant and vital tests recommended actively by the doctors. “Of late, it has been seen that multiple variants of Covid-19 are not detectable through RT-PCR. As such, for better diagnosis, a large number of doctors today are alternatively recommending HRCT test/ scan to suspected/ probable Covid-19 patients for detecting the presence and determining the specificity and severity of COVID-19 infection in them,” the petition said.

HRCT is basically an imaging procedure that uses narrow beams of X-rays to create a high-resolution image.

Published on May 03, 2021

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