"Thousands in the capital racing against time to procure Remdesivir; issue needs to be looked at holistically": Delhi High Court

  • Shruti Kakkar
  • 01:58 PM, 28 Apr 2021

The Single Judge Bench of Justice Prathiba M Singh of Delhi High Court while hearing a petition seeking direction for supply of remdesivir injection has observed that the need of the hour is to look at availability of the drug in Delhi holistically to avoid future filing of multiple writ petitions by those who need the same. 

In the last ten to fourteen days, the citizenry in Delhi has been facing acute frustration and harassment due to the non-availability of Remdesivir, which is a prescribed drug for COVID-19 patients. Thousands of relatives have been racing against time trying to arrange Remdesivir for their near and dear ones.”, the Bench remarked. 

The present petition was filed by an Advocate who was detected with CoVID 19 on April 13, 2021. Since his condition did not improve in home isolation, he was admitted to Rescue Hospital, Dwarka, New Delhi & he was found to be suffering from pneumonia after he got his CT Scan conducted. The petitioner on 21st April 2021 was prescribed six doses of Remdesivir injection but he could arrange only three doses from outside market sources & thereafter he approached this Court seeking direction for supply of three more vials of the same for his treatment. 

Mr. K.R. Chawla, Assistant Drug Controller, submitted that seven companies in India manufacture Remdesivir & during the period from January 2021 to March 2021, a large quantity of the drug was not being utilized owing to low level of patients requiring the drug. He further submitted that the second wave in the last week of March- April 2021 led to an acute shortage of the Drug & he thereafter informed that the production was considerably ramped up. He also submitted that the same was being allocated to various States & UT’s for distribution. 

Adv Anuj Aggarwal, counsel for GNCTD submitted that Delhi had to only go by the allocations which have been made for Delhi since the capital did not have a production unit. He further informed that on April 24, 2021, 72000 units were allocated & on April 25, 2021 there was a requisition for 72000 vials but till date only 2500 vials were received. 

The Court opined that the statistics clearly portrayed that considering the number of cases of COVID-19 in Delhi on a daily basis, the shortage of Remdesivir was acute. 

Moreover, since obtaining admission in hospitals has become so difficult, most patients are having tele-consultations with the doctors and engaging paramedics/nurses for Intravenous treatment. Thus, Remdesivir may have to be made available not merely for hospitalised patients but even to those who may be in home isolation, subject to the prescription of a doctor being available.”, the Bench observed.

The Bench further observed that the data of hospitalized patients revealed that even those patients to whom drugs were being prescribed within the hospital were not able to obtain the same & that the private hospitals facing an acute shortage of Remdesivir have been asking the patient’s relative to arrange for the drug from their own sources. 

Thereafter, considering the overall acute shortage of the drug, the Bench issued the following directions: 

  1. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is impleaded as Respondent No.5 in this matter. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) is impleaded as Respondent No.6
  2. Respondent Nos.2 to 6 shall instruct their respective counsels so that they can inform the Court as to whether any changes have been made in the manner of administration of Remdesivir since the time the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March, 2020. The said guidelines, if any, for administration of Remdesivir which were previously in operation and which are currently in operation, shall be emailed to the Court Master by tomorrow morning i.e., 28th April, 2021 by 9:00 a.m.
  3. Insofar as allocation of Remdesivir for Delhi is concerned, the manner in which the number of 72,000 vials has been arrived at and allocated to Delhi shall be disclosed by Respondent Nos.2 to 6
  4. The GNCTD shall place on record the orders placed for the allocated quantity and inform the Court as to from where the supplies are due. The Nodal Officer of the GNCTD, who is stated to have been appointed by the Delhi Government, shall inform the Court as to by when the total allocated quantity of Remdesivir is likely to be received in Delhi;
  5. The GNCTD shall also inform the Court as to the total number of hospitalized patients for COVID-19 both in private and public hospitals, as the data ought to be readily available in their database, as of 27th April, 2021
  6. The documents by which the allocations have been made shall be placed on record
  7. Insofar as the Petitioner is concerned, the remaining three vials which the Petitioner needs urgently, shall be supplied to the Petitioner by 9:00 p.m. today itself.

The matter will now be heard on April 28 at 2:30 PM & the Bench further directed the Nodal Officer, GNCTD who is dealing with Remdesivir to join the proceedings & assist the Court in the Next Date of Hearing.

Case Title: Vinay Jaidka V. Chief Secretary| W.P.(C) 5026/2021