The Bombay high court on Tuesday said the Mumbai civic body and the Maharashtra government should work in tandem to ensure that citizens are well aware about the availability as well as prices of several drugs being used in treating Coronavirus infection.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking that drugs being used to treat COVID-19 patients be made available directly at hospitals, and isolation and quarantine centres where such patients are treated.
The PIL, filed by NGO All Maharashtra Human Rights Welfare Association claimed that since drugs like Remdesivir, Tamiflu and Actemra injection, which are crucial in treatment of COVID-19 patients, were available only at select chemists, patients lose much time in availing treatment.
Care-givers of patients need to 'procure the drugs and also have to pay much more than the maximum retail price on many occasions', the petitioner's counsel Prashant Pandey told the bench.
In its reply, the state government said drugs were easily available.
In Mumbai, two lakh units of Remdesivir were available at 97 chemist shops, it said.
However, advocate Pandey claimed he had called at 'at least 20 of these 97 places, and all 20 had said that the drugs were not available'.
At this, the bench noted that while the state was the respondent party in the plea and had filed its reply, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wasn't a respondent.
It directed the petitioner to make BMC a party in the case, adding that the civic body and all concerned authorities must work together to ensure the availability of drugs.
"The corporation and the concerned departments of the state must work in tandem to ensure that these drugs remain available easily and that the citizens are well aware about where they are stocked, available etc., and at what prices," the HC said.