Guntur: The sharp spike in Covid-19 cases in the district, which has an active caseload of more than 10,000, and shortage of the much needed Remdesivir have come in handy for unscrupulous pharmacists to sell the drug at an exorbitant price in black market. A vial of Remdesivir is being sold at an excessive price of Rs 40,000 though its price is capped at Rs 2,500.
A family member of a patient said he bought Remdesivir injection for Rs 38,000 in black market. “The doctor prescribed two Remdesivir injections as my father’s oxygen levels dropped all of a sudden and the drug is not available in the hospital. I contacted my friend, who bought the injection in black market recently, and he gave me the contact number of a pharmacist. I bought two injections at a cost of Rs 38,000 each,’’ he said, adding that he was left with no option as his father’s condition was critical. For me, the life of my father is more important than money, he said.
According to sources, some pharmacists stocked the drug in March itself with medical experts warning of a second Covid wave with more severity is set to strike India, and they are now selling at Remdesivir exorbitant prices. A nodal officer of a private Covid hospital admitted that people are becoming so impatient due to unnecessary fears. “If Remdesivir doses are not available at that moment, we are managing with other medicines and if the condition gets worse, we are arranging it from other hospitals,” he said.
Meanwhile, District Collector Vivek Yadav strictly instructed notified private Covid hospitals and nodal officers to submit daily indents for Remdesivir as per the SOP. “By this, the goverment will have an idea about the exact requirement of Remdesivir and adequate stock can be supplied, through which we can effectively control the sale of the drug in black market,” he added.
Guntur Urban Police arrested four persons on Wednesday for selling Remdesivir in black market. Guntur Urban SP RN Ammi Reddy said as Covid-19 infections are increasing in the district, Remdesivir is being sold in black market by some non-notified private hospitals. Based on tip-off, Kothapeta CI Rajasekhar and his team conducted a sting operation. “In the guise of relatives of a patient, the team approached Ankamma Rao for Remdesivir and he agreed to sell six vials at a price of Rs 38,000 each,” the SP said.
During investigation, police learnt that Ankamma Rao bought the injections for Rs 34,000 each from one Ratnaraju, who was also arrested. Ratnaraju, in turn, told police that he bought the injections from Gurnadham, who works as a pharmacist in Siva Medicals attached to Kidney Care Hospital in the city, for Rs 26,000 a vial. Gurnadham revealed that he bought the injections from Krishnaveni, who works in the same hospital. All the four were arrested and six Remdesivir vials were seized from the quartet, the SP said. Guntur Medical College Principal S Babulal said Remdesivir is needed only when oxygen levels dropped.