Delhi police seek court permission to release remdesivir vials seized from black-marketeers to hospitals
New Delhi: To mitigate the supply shortage of the drug Remdsivir, Delhi Police's crime branch has approached the Delhi court to allow the release of 93 vials of seized remdesivir so that they can be given to health care facilities or patients to aid their efforts for the treatment of COVID-19 disease.
The crime branch seized 93 vials of the drug in three raids between April 21 and 25 from seven alleged hoarders.
"We have requested the court to release the seized remdesivir injections to any hospital or NGO so they may reach the patients in need," deputy commissioner of police (crime) Bhardwaj told HT.
Similarly, the south and west district police teams are also likely to move the court for the release of the nine vials seized after the arrest of five people in connection with the matter on Sunday.
"We will soon move an application, seeking the court's permission to give the seized injections to the drug controller, hospitals or any NGO," Atul Kumar Thakur, DCP (south) told HT.
The district police, crime branch, and other Delhi Police units have been directed to keep a vigil on the Sale and purchase of Remdesivir after several complaints of black marketing and hoarding of the drug surfaced.
A sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in the national capital has led to a critical shortage of several drugs used to treat Covid-19 patients such as remdesivir, faviprarir and ivermectin. With illicit hoarding and black marketing of essential drugs, there are complaints of artificial shortage and the hoarders are resorting to selling these drugs at jacked up prices to the tune of 10-15 times the sale price of the drug.
Police officers aware of the matter also hint at the role of social media SOS messages in giving a platform to the racketeers who then resort to extracting exorbitant amounts from desperate caretakers of the COVID patients.
"Social media is flooded with SOS messages and contact details of people selling the injections. The problem lies there itself. Patients or their family members bargain with these sellers. The bidding starts at around ₹25,000 for a vial and often stretches to ₹70,000 or ₹80,000, depending on a customer's desperation," a senior police officer told HT.
For instance, the seven people arrested by the crime branch were selling each injection for between ₹25,000 and ₹40,000.
"Interrogations revealed that they were getting the remdesivir from contacts in Punjab and Haryana. The crime branch teams have been conducting raids in the two states to arrest other racketeers," Bhardwaj told HT.
Meanwhile, the police on Monday evening arrested two people, one of whom is a nurse who works at a private hospital in Rohini, for allegedly illicitly selling remdesivir injections.
Deputy commissioner of police (Rohini) Pranav Tayal told HT that they arrested Sudhir (who goes by a single name) and seized two vials of the injection. He was to deliver the two for ₹60,000 each to the complainant.
"The role of the nurse emerged upon further investigations. She has been apprehended because Sudhir bought the injections for ₹38,000 each from her," he added
Similar crackdowns are being done on hoarders of medical oxygen amidst a crisis of availability of medical oxygen forcing many city hospitals reaching the brink of exhausting their supplies and issuing SOS calls for help.
On Saturday, a local court sanctioned the release for medical use of 48 cylinders containing 2,300 liters of medical oxygen that the Southwest district police seized on Friday from a person in Dashrath Puri near Sagarpur.
"Any hospital or NGO that needs the oxygen may approach us with a request letter, along with an affidavit attesting that they will return the cylinders after use. The cylinders will remain with us as case property," said Ingit Pratap Singh, DCP (southwest).
HT report quotes a senior advocate Vikas Pahwa saying that Considering the severity of the pandemic, case property seized in these cases, which may save lives, can be released in favour of the rightful owner alternatively, it may be handed over to someone who may need it.
"These injections can also be sold to government hospitals and nursing homes. A magistrate has the power to decide this application at the preliminary stage of the case itself," he said.