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Crooks sell water as Remdesivir for Rs 30,000 per vial in Telangana

HYDERABAD: Black marketing of the emergency drug Remdesivir, used to treating COVID-19 patients, has taken a new form in Telangana, as miscreants are now selling used vials filled with distilled or saline water as Remdesivir at outrageous prices of up to Rs 30,000 per vial.

On one hand, the black marketing is rampant and on the other, such cases are putting people at a bigger risk. In one such incident at a private hospital at Dammaiguda in the city, a gang sold a vial, ostensibly of Remdesivir, to a patient for Rs 27,000. The doctor treating the patient identified it as fake medicine.

Shockingly, the doctor, too, then took advantage of the situation and offered to provide vials in his possession to the patient for Rs 25,000 each. The patient’s family, which had already spent Rs 54,000, spent another Rs 50,000 to purchase the vials from the doctor.

The police have been cracking down on such gangs, but the new techniques the gangs are adopting has made it difficult to detect them.

From the third week of April 2021, the Telangana police department has registered around 50 cases of black marketing of Remdesivir, of which at least three were related to selling saline or distilled water filled in used vials.

Police also suspect that many such incidents have gone unreported, because hospitals discourage patients to report such cases, as the hospitals themselves are allegedly hand-in-glove with those who sell the fake vials.

Another instance of selling expired drugs was also reported. In all these cases, the drugs are sold at up to ten times the MRP rates. Senior police officials say they have increased surveillance, but such cases still continue to occur. “There are people black marketing the drugs in small quantities, and teams on the field are cracking down on them. However, so far there is no evidence that organised gangs are involved in this,” they said.

The police is also coordinating with the Health department and the Drug Control Administration (DCA) to control black marketing. In most of the cases, those involved in black marketing have a medical background and work as medical store owners, or for pharma companies and distributors, it was found.