After observing that the state of Jharkhand is heading towards an emergency, the Jharkhand High Court has held that the Covid situation is “pathetic” due to non-availability of beds, oxygen supported beds and non-supply of medicines for home isolated patients.
Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad noted the submission of the intervenor/petitioner who stated that “there is acute shortage of medicines for treating Covid-19 patients such as Remdesivir Injection, Favipiravir, Doxycycline tablet and even the tablets of Fluguard, Vitamin-C and Zinc are not available in the open market.”
The court has also been apprised that Remdesivir and Favipiravir tablets are being black-marketed at a high cost. “The health situation in the State of Jharkhand is worsening day by day and because of non-supply of medicines like Remdesivir Injection and Favipiravir Tablets, the people are facing great difficulty and even dying due to lack of such medicines, which are required for giving treatment to persons suffering from Covid-19”, read their submission.
The High Court was informed that the state has been facing oxygen shortage. The court recorded, “They further submit that even Oxygen is not available in the respective hospital (Sadar hospital) of the State of Jharkhand and due to lack of adequate supply of Oxygen, the patients are dying.”
The court expressed its surprise at the U-turn taken by the Drug Controller of the State of Jharkhand regarding the availability of Remdesivir. The Drug Controller had initially submitted that there was rationing of Remdesivir from the Central Government, therefore supply was inadequate. She had also submitted that other medicines like Favipiravir were ordered to the respective CNFs but there was no adequate supply.
However, the Additional Solicitor General of India (appearing for the Union of India) apprised the Court that there was no rationing of Remdesivir by the Centre. The court said, “the Drug Controller took U-turn by making submission that there is no such control by the Central Government with respect to Remdesivir Injection rather her submission is that order is being placed to CNFs but they are not providing adequate supply and same is the situation with respect to Favipiravir Tablet.”
The High Court Bench has sternly observed the critical situation in the State. “…there is a pathetic situation in the State of Jharkhand, due to non-availability of beds, oxygen supported beds and even the patients are not in a situation to live in isolation in the house since they are not made available with the required medicines due to non-supply of such medicines. While on the other hand, it has been informed to this Court that injections like Remdesivir and tablets like Favipiravir are being black-marketed.”
The court pulled up the Drug Controller and said, “This is a serious issue of concern that on the one hand the Drug Controller is submitting that the supply of like Remdesivir Injection and Favipiravir Tablets are being made available to top medical shops but peoples are not getting.”
Amid rising cases in the State, the court has raised two issues. It wondered on what basis the medicines are being supplied to top medicine shops and which are those top medicine shops. The court wanted to understand if the public has received a list of medicines available in these top medical shops. The court also questioned the move of supplying medicines only to “top” medical shops and not all shops for Covid-19 infected patients.
Noting that the government had not taken any sincere effort to procure the adequate supply of essential medicines, the court directed the State to file an affidavit regarding the steps taken up till April 17 to secure adequate supply of Remdesivir and Favipiravir. The Bench has asked the Drug Controller to bring on record, up-to date details of the supply of medicines. The High Court has also asked the government whether they have taken steps to check the black marketing of drugs.
During the hearing on April 13, SabrangIndia had reported that the same Bench had expressed its dissatisfaction towards the inadequate medical facilities in Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Ranchi. It took note of the shortage of CT scan machines amid rising Covid infections and said, “non-availability of CT scan machines in an institute like RIMS is a matter of serious concern.”
The order may be read here: