Use extraordinary powers meant for extreme situations, monitor drug prices: SC
On April 30, while dealing with myriad other issues, the court also focused on black marketing of drugs and the shortfall of Remdesivir drug widely used in Covid treatment
The Supreme Court, in its April 30 order, took notice of the exorbitant rates of life saving drugs being prescribed by doctors in Covid treatment and asked the Centre to consider putting the extraordinary provisions of some laws in action. The three-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat reminded the Centre that present circumstance warrants the government’s examination of its the extraordinary powers for fixing drug prices as also of vaccination.
After perusing Centre’s affidavit on essential drugs, the court sought information on actual rate of production and a breakup of demand for the drug and the methodology used for allocation of Remdesivir to states. The court also asked the Centre to consider invoking its statutory powers under paragraphs 19 and 20 of the Drugs Price Control Order to control prices of drugs like Favipiravir, Tociluzumab, Enoxaparin, Ivermectin, Methylprednisolone, Paracetamol and Hydroxy-chloroquine.
The court also asked the Centre to consider augmenting production of drugs like Favipiravir which is not mentioned in National Clinical Management Protocol but is being prescribed by doctors in Covid treatment.
The court observed that the present circumstance warrants the government’s examination of its the extraordinary powers, meant to be used in extreme situations, such as the current pandemic, for fixing drug prices, be it vaccines, or patented formulations, having regard to the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and other provisions.
Black marketing of drugs
The court also took due notice of black marketing of drugs being used in Covid treatment and stated that it was a condemnable attempt to exploit people’s misery and profit from their helplessness. The court suggested that the Centre could constitute a special team to identify those selling oxygen at high rates and those selling fake substances and to evolve a protocol for ambulances as well so people do not end up paying high prices.
Augmenting health care workforce
The court asked the Centre to ensure optimal utilisation of services of the 2021 batch of doctors, nurses and pharmacy students while giving due regard to their safety and well being. The court also asked the Centre to consider using healthcare workforce available with the armed forces and paramilitary forces for the purpose of vaccination.
In a detailed order, on April 30, the Supreme Court dealt with other issues such as the Disaster Management Act, medical infrastructure, oxygen allocation, vaccine policy and augmenting health workers.
The next date of hearing is May 10.
Courtesy : Sabrang