New Delhi/Mumbai/Bhopal: As India struggled under a second wave of COVID-19, details emerged about a black market in Remdesivir, an antiviral drug used to treat the pandemic. The central government had banned export or unauthorised transactions of Remdevisir to ensure the smooth supply of the drug in the hospitals.
The Chandigarh police have arrested six people for unauthorised transactions of the drug. Three of them were from Kerala. The Madhya Pradesh police have also arrested two persons on similar charges, taking the total number of arrests in the state to four.
In Maharashtra, the worst-hit state, Food and Drugs Administration commissioner Abhimanyu Kale was sacked for failing to distribute the vital drug.
The persons arrested in Chandigarh include P V Abhishek from Ariyil in Kannur, Philip Jacob from Lalam in Kottayam and K P Francis from Mannanam in Kottayam. The other arrested persons are Sushil Kumar from Delhi, Prabhat Tyagi from Madhya Pradesh and Gaurav Chawla from Himachal Pradesh. Chawla is a director of the Health Biotech company in Himachal Pradesh.
The Chandigarh special police seized 3,000 doses of Remdesivir from the accused. They were arrested when they were striking a deal in a luxury hotel in Chandigarh’s sector 17. The police busted the racket on the basis of a tipoff. Though Chawla argued that his company was permitted to manufacture and export the drug, he could not produce any documents to support his claims, special cell superintendent of police Ketan Bansal said.
One of the accused, Philip Jacob, has been tested positive for the coronavirus. Francis and Abhishek are under observation after both of them showed signs of the disease.
The Madhya Pradesh police cracked down on illegal sale Remdesivir as the pandemic raged in the state. The life-saving drug was being sold in the black market in front of the hospitals. The police have seized three vials of the drug from the profiteers.
Some of the main hospitals have reported that vials of the drug have been stolen from their stocks. The police suspect that some of the hospital employees have a hand in the thefts.