NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday objected to a "change" by the Centre in the COVID treatment protocol related to Remdesivir use amid a shortage of the drug, saying "it appears you want people to die".
"This is wrong. This is a complete non-application of mind. Now people who do not have oxygen will not get Remdesivir either."
"It appears you want people to die," Justice Prathiba M Singh said after the central government submitted that under the protocol being followed now only patients on oxygen support were being given Remdesivir.
The court also said it will consider later whether a medical committee should review if the protocols or guidelines for administering Remdesivir need any modification.
"Don't change the protocol only to reduce the shortage. That is wrong. As a result, doctors are not able to prescribe Remdesivir," the court said and added, "This is complete mismanagement."
On the allocation of the drug to Delhi, the Centre told the court that over 52,000 vials, out of the allocated amount of 72,000, were sent to the national capital till April 27.
It said the allocation was being made on the basis of the actual caseload of a state.
The court, however, said the allocation cannot be so low for Delhi.
The court also said it was "shocking" that an MP was able to procure 10,000 vials of the medicine from Delhi, transport it to Ahmednagar in Maharashtra via a chartered flight and distributed it there.
"This is shocking the conscience of the court. That is 10,000 vials that could have been given to patients in Delhi. There is complete mismanagement of the quota being received by the state," it said.
The Centre then said that in the coming days the allocation would increase as there would be a rise in production.
The Delhi government, represented by additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal, said they received only 2,500 vials of the over 52,000 sent to the national capital.
When the court asked about the remaining nearly 50,000 vials, it was informed that they were distributed via private channels to hospitals and patients.
The Delhi government, thereafter, told the court that in view of the private distribution of the drug, it has decided to create a portal only through which hospitals would be able to procure the medicine.
The court, however, did not agree with the proposed system saying many people who need the medicine are not hospitalised due to lack of beds or are availing treatment at home.
Justice Singh said that the better option would be to allow the patient or family or attendant to place the request on the portal for the drug and thereafter, the person can collect it from the hospital after making payment.
The court said this will ensure that 90 percent of the patients who need Remdesivir receive the medicine, while if only hospitals were administering the drug then only around 50 percent of the patients would get it.
It directed the Delhi government to put on hold the launch of the portal till the time the suggestions made by the court are incorporated in it.
The court was hearing a plea by a lawyer who is suffering from COVID-19 and was able to get only three out of the six doses of Remdesivir required.
Due to the court's intervention, the lawyer got the remaining vials on Tuesday night.
The court had on Tuesday observed that several companies in India were manufacturing the medicine and millions of vials of the drug must have been exported, "but we do not have enough to cater to our own patients".