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[Covid-19] 'Moment There Is Shortage, Every State Will Want It': Delhi High Court Seeks Response On Availability Of Amphotericin B, Oxygen Buffer Stock

Nupur Thapliyal
7 July 2021 10:32 AM GMT
[Covid-19] Moment There Is Shortage, Every State Will Want It: Delhi High Court Seeks Response On Availability Of Amphotericin B, Oxygen Buffer Stock
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Resuming hearing in the petitions concerning the Covid-19 situation after a month, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought response of the Centre and Delhi Government on various aspects including the import and domestic production of Amphotericin B drug for treating black fungus and the steps for creating buffer stock of oxygen by the Centre and Delhi Government.A division bench comprising...

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Resuming hearing in the petitions concerning the Covid-19 situation after a month, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought response of the Centre and Delhi Government on various aspects including the import and domestic production of Amphotericin B drug for treating black fungus and the steps for creating buffer stock of oxygen by the Centre and Delhi Government.

A division bench comprising of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh sought their response after considering and going through the status reports filed by both Centre and the Delhi Government on their present actions taken as per the previous directions of the Court.

On Amphotericin B and Medicinal Issues

Highlighting the issue of supply of Amphotericin B, Amicus Curiae Rajshekhar Rao submitted before the Court that although the situation is not as critical as few months before, however, there is a need for a stock of the medicine for dealing with future crisis.

Advocate Kirtiman Singh appearing for the Centre however clarified that the number of black fungus cases have come down and that the total production has been increased. 

"Those factors have been taken care of. I'll place the developments on record. We'll certainly prioritize wherever urgent attention is required," he submitted.

Hearing this, the Court ordered thus:

"Let a status report be filed by UOI within a week highlighting current status of the medicine in the country; quantities of the said medicine actually imported and the outstanding supplies and domestic production."

Furthermore, Rao also highlighted the issue of supply of Remdesivir medicine by submitting that out of the 5 exporters, one has been disqualified while some have not given their samples.

He said "Just those two people who are intending to diverting the stocks to Indian market, we can work on that."

On this, the Court asked the Centre to file a status report with regards to the status of exporters of Remdesivir; if the export has started; the status of stocks held by them and whether they have been permitted to produce in stock market.

On Oxygen Buffer Stock

During the course of hearing, Rao informed the Court that the Centre had not come back on the issue of creating a buffer stock of oxygen.

Observing that there is a direction in this regard by the Supreme Court and that there should be a closure, the Court asked the Centre to file an affidavit in this regard.

Justice Jasmeet Singh orally remarked:

"There are some issues which need urgent attention, like stock of oxygen and stock of Amphotericin B. You need to prioritise the issues which need urgent attention and issues which don't."

Furthermore, Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra appearing for the Delhi Government submitted that 171 MT of buffer stock has been installed and that the Delhi Government is in the process of installing another 150 MT.

"If we take all the tanks, we will have 1200 MT plus. Currently it's 171 buffer stock. If the trend increases, then much before the third wave and large numbers, we will have to ensure that there is buffer stock," Mehra submitted.

Hearing this, Justice Singh orally remarked that there has to be scientific formula in analysing the aspects concerning creation of buffer stock. He said:

"The moment there is a shortage, every state will want it. Is there somebody who is scientifically analysing it and coming to a conclusion? There should not be a knee jerk reaction where everyone is wanting."

On the other hand, Justice Sanghi remarked thus:

"The problem earlier was the LMO reaching Delhi. You didn't have tankers to carry it, you didn't have storage in Delhi. Once you create a storage in Delhi and you don't fill it up and wait for a time when the crisis arise, is it worth your while to store it or keep it?"

"Because tomorrow when you need it, if these tanks aren't filled up and supplies don't come from outside, these tanks will not be of any use at all," he said further.

Submitting that there are two committees constituted by the Delhi Government to oversee the gradation system and review the situation, Mehra stated that a status report will be filed by the GNCTD after the meetings with those committees are concluded.

Showing concerns on creation of a future buffer stock, Justice Singh said "If it's 100 today, it may peak to 200. Were concerned with that plus amount. We have no doubt about your 100 MT. We want to know that plus amount."

However, at this juncture, Mehra submitted that as per the recommendations by IIT Delhi for the Central Government, it would be appropriate if the Centre could state in their status report as to the steps they are taking to maximize GNCTD's resources.

On this, the Court also directed the Centre to file response on the steps it proposes to take, in compliance of IIT Delhi's recommendations.

With the aforesaid observations and directions, the Court listed the matter for further hearing on July 15.

During the previous hearings, the Court had directed the Centre to spell out its policy with regard to the priority of patients who should be administered the said drug, to maximize the lives that could be saved, amongst patients suffering from Mucormycosis also known as black fungus.

It also asked the Centre as to how camps run by Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), in collaboration with Private Hospitals, may be able to work out in boosting the vaccination drive.

Case Title: Rakesh Malhotra v. GNCTD & Ors.

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