The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Maharashtra government to reply to a plea seeking that medicines used to treat COVID-19 patients be made available directly at hospitals, isolation and quarantine centres where such patients are being admitted.

A Division Bench of Justices K.K. Tated and N.R. Borkar was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO, All Maharashtra Human Rights Welfare Association, through its president, Jayesh Mirani. The PIL claimed that since medicines which are crucial for treating COVID-19, such as Remdesivir, and an injection Actemra, are available only at select chemists, a patient loses much time in buying the drugs and availing themselves of treatment.

Advocate Prashant Pandey, appearing for the NGO, told the court, “The patient’s caregivers need to procure the drugs and also have to pay much more than the maximum retail price on many occasions. If the drugs were instead made available at COVID-19 treatment facilities, much time would be saved and immediate care can be given to the patients through doctors and the hospital staff.”

Mr. Pandey also said people are being made to pay exorbitant prices for medicines such as Remdesivir. Though the drug has an MRP of ₹3,000, it is being sold in the black market for nearly ₹30,000. Therefore, it is important that such drugs are made available directly at COVID-19 care centres.

The PIL sought a direction from the court to the State government to make such medicines, including Remdesivir 100, Actemra 400 injections and FabiFlu tablets, available at all government and private hospitals treating COVID-19 patients, and at medical stores.

Seeking time to file a reply to the PIL, government pleader Purnima Kantharia said she had to look into making all these medicines available over the counter.

The Bench directed her to file an affidavit in reply to the PIL by October 2. The matter has been posted for further hearing on October 6.

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