'Remdesivir sold between Rs 15,000 & Rs 20,000 per vial in open market'
Kolkata: Even as the private hospitals are supposed to provide 'Remdesivir injection' — used only as supportive therapy in Covid treatment — to Covid patients at specific rates fixed by the Centre, people alleged some private hospitals were hoodwinking people along with a section of medicine shops by compelling them to buy each vial at exorbitant rates between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 from the open market.
People are supposed to get the medicine from hospitals at a cost of anything between Rs 899 and Rs 3,490 depending on the brand of the injection as fixed by the Centre. As per the existing system, all the private hospitals are getting the medicines directly from the carrying and forwarding agents (CFA) of a particular brand of medicine.
Instead of providing the vials to the patients, some hospitals are allegedly telling the family members of the patients that they do not have enough stock of 'Remdesivir injection.' Hence, these hospitals are asking people to bring the medicine from the market.
Having left with no option, people are visiting the nearby medicine shops and buying the medicines at higher rates. People alleged that they were not being given proper bills for purchasing the same.
There is no direction from the ICMR or the Centre that the medicine will be applied on an emergency basis. "It is not that the hospitals have to apply the medicine on an emergency basis. Hospitals and nursing homes get enough time to procure the medicines from the CFA as per their requirements. But in reality, they are creating an artificial crisis and indirectly forcing the patients' relatives to buy them from the market. As a result, black marketing over this particular medicine is rampant in various parts of the city," an expert in the field said, requesting anonymity.
Remdesivir is no wonder drug. "Remdesivir is a supportive therapy as mentioned by the ICMR and AIIMS but at the time of treatment it is being told that the medicine is 'indispensable' and 'urgent'. People are getting frightened due to the statements of some hospitals. They are compelled to buy the medicine from the open market at whatever price charged," said Joydeep Sarkar of All India Chemists and Distributors Federation (AICDF).
Sarkar further pointed out: "The traders' fraternity demands the 'Statement of Re-allocation' of 'Remdesivir Injection' in Bengal through the respective nodal officer appointed by Swasthya Bhawan. To determine the guidelines, no such discussions were done with the traders' associations for ensuring smooth supply of Remdesivir."
It may be mentioned here that the state Health department has nominated a nodal officer to monitor the allocation of medicines to the hospitals. People, who are buying the medicine at exorbitant prices, demanded that the Health department must publish the information regarding the distribution of 'Remdesivir' and its usage by the hospitals on a daily basis in the form of bulletin so that the alleged nexus between some private hospitals and medicine sellers breaks.
"Around 27,000 units of Remdesivir arrived in Kolkata on April 21, then how the secondary stock of the medical institutions is showing zero within a few hours. It will encourage the offenders if the Health department does not initiate immediate steps. It is necessary to curb black-marketing," Sarkar further said.