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PIL in SC for CBI probe for using two antiviral medicines

A plea filed in the Supreme Court has sought registration of an FIR by CBI against ten Indian pharmaceutical firms for manufacturing and selling Remdesivir and Favipiravir allegedly as medicines that treat COVID-19 patients without valid licences.

Remdesivir and Favipiravir are antiviral drugs and their efficacy in treating COVID-19 patients have been a matter of debate among medical experts.

Lawyer M L Sharma has filed a PIL in the apex court, alleging the medicines are being manufactured and sold for treating COVID-19 patients without valid licences from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation. “That respondents…are Indian pharmaceutical companies who have signed partnership agreements with foreign companies, that are Gilead Science Inc-USA and Fujifilm-Japan, to manufacture and sale impugned drugs, Remdesivir and Avagin (Favipiravir), in India. Without having a licence, they are manufacturing and selling impugned drugs as a medicine for corona in India,” the PIL alleged.

Seeking a direction to CBI, Sharma has sought prosecution of the Indian companies for cheating and criminal conspiracy besides under the provisions of the Drug Act, 1940. The PIL, which may come up for hearing in a few days, said that these medicines have not been certified as medicines for COVID-19 till date by any country.

“They are under trial and no country, including India, has issued licence to manufacture and sell them in the country,” it said. The companies are manufacturing and selling them at very high rates in India and people are paying that “due to the fear of COVID-19 infection” and are dying, it said, claiming more than 300 doctors have died in hospitals where these two medicines have been supplied and it amounted to “exploitation of public” due to the fear of death.

Remdesivir was introduced by Gilead Science Inc. USA to treat Ebola Virus in Africa but it was found to be not effective, it said. Favipiravir was developed by Fujifilm Toyama Chemical and was approved to treat Influenza. The PIL has made the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation parties to the matter.

It has also made 10 pharmaceutical companies, including Cipla Ltd, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, Hetero Labs Ltd and Zydus Cadila Healthcare Ltd, parties. Stressing that a completely effective treatment for COVID-19 is yet to be found, the plea said, “The prime minister has already initiated a process with Russia to import COVID-19 vaccine to manufacture/distribute in India through PSU Bharat Immunologicals and Biologicals Corporation Limited (BIBCOL).”  – News18

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