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Remdesivir triggers political tug-of-war in Gujarat

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on April 10, 2021

File photo   -  REUTERS

Gujarat BJP chief CR Paatil offers free injections even as Government rushes to secure supplies for hospitals

Amid the severe shortage of the life-saving injection, Remdesivir has triggered a political tug-of-war in Gujarat.

On Friday, the State BJP Chief C R Paatil had announced that 5000 injections will be distributed free of charge to the needy in the city of Surat - one of the worst-hit in Gujarat. This came at a time when the Vijay Rupani-led State government was struggling to ensure adequate supplies of the injection to the hospitals.

A section of the society and the opposition parties questioned Paatil's move. Responding to the media's questions about Paatil decision, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said, "Ask CR (Paatil) about the arrangment.

It is learnt that the BJP's Surat youth wing leaders had secured the injections from market at the market rate.

On Saturday, a formal ceremony was held in Surat to handover the free Remdesivir injections (Remdac by Zydus Cadila) to the beneficiaries. It required a prescription from a registered doctor and a positive RT-PCR report of the patient.

Sources have said that the Gujarat Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) is likely to conduct an inquiry into the matter. HG Koshia, Commissioner, FDCA Gujarat, was not availabel for a comment.

A day ago, the State government had made arrangements for a total of 24,687 Remdesivir injections for the entire State.

Highlighting the intense demand pressure for the injections, the government said that 1,70,738 injection were used in past nine days as against 1,63,716 injections used during entire month of March.

The State government has already placed an order for 3,00,000 injections to different manufacturers, Rupani had said. India currently has six manufacturers for Remdesivir injections, collectively producing about three lakh injections per day.

Meanwhile, two authorised hospitals in Ahmedabad - that would distribute the injections directly to the patients - ran out of stock and have temporarily suspended the distribution.

This included Zydus Hospitals and the Gujarat Cancer Society (GCS) Hospital. However, Union Minister of State for Chemicals, Mansukh Mandaviya reportedly has spoken to Pankaj Patel, Chairman of Zydus Group to resume the sale of remdesivir injections from Zydus Hospitals.

In a tweet on Saturday, Mandaviya said, "I have spoken to Pankajbhai (Patel) regarding resuming the sale of remdesivir injections from Zydus Hospitals. And this arrangement will resume very soon. I request relatives of the patients to cooperate with the hospital’s management. Citizens are requested to refrain from hoarding."

Meanwhile, community social media network, LocalCircles has written to the drug regulator, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to take action against the black-marketing of the Remdesivir injections and issue necessary directive to States in this regard. "Over the last 72 hours, many posts and comments have been received from various cities of India raising similar (black-marketing) concerns and some have even quoted the drug (remdesivir) selling for as high as Rs 50,000 - over 10 times of the MRP of the drug," it said in its letter dated April 10.

Published on April 10, 2021

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