General

Police grill pharma director over Remdesivir stock; BJP fumes

Mumbai police questioned a pharma company director following information that thousands of vials of the Remdesivir drug critical in coronavirus treatment were to be flown out of the country, an official said on Sunday.

Police said they had information that the Remdesivir stock was going to be flown abroad by air cargo, despite a ban on the export of the drug. While Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis claimed the director was picked up because the BJP managed to get the permissions in place for the supply of the drug to Maharashtra, activist Saket Gokhale wondered how did a “private individual like Fadnavis” procure Remdesivir stock from Gujarat when the sale is allowed only to the government.

Police on Saturday night questioned Rajesh Dokania, director of Bruck Pharma, a Daman-based pharmaceutical manufacturing company that manufactures Remdesivir vials.

He was summoned from his home in north Mumbai suburb Kandivali by Ville Parle police, questioned and allowed to leave the police station around midnight after being informed that he has to be present for police inquiry whenever called.

Police had information that at least 60,000 Remdesivir vials are being exported through air cargo, a police official told PTI. “We acted in the good faith as such a huge stock can serve the need of the patients here (in Maharashtra) too,” DCP Manjunath Singe said.

The BJP objected to the pharma executives grilling by the police, saying the state government was playing politics amid the pandemic.

On learning that Dokania was being quizzed, Fadnavis and another state BJP leader Pravin Darekar rushed to the police station. They said the BJP was reaching out to pharma companies due to the shortage of Remdesivir in the state. “It was our sincere attempt to get Remdesivar for Maharashtra,” Fadnavis said. “Four days ago we had requested Bruck Pharma to supply us Remdesivir but they couldnt until permission was given. I spoke to Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya and also got FDAs permission,” Fadnavis said.

The former CM claimed that a Maharashtra ministers officer on special duty called the pharma executive and objected to the company providing Remdesivir on BJPs appeal.

The appearance of top Maharashtra BJP leaders late at night at the police station after the director was grilled has intensified the political slugfest between the Shiv Sena-led regime and the BJP over the paucity of healthcare supplies. “Why didnt Fadnavis inform the state govt of the supplier & help procure the stock through state channels? In the midst of a severe shortage, why was the BJP hoarding 4.75 crores worth of Remdesivir in their party office (just like in Gujarat)?” Gokhale tweeted.

“And most importantly – while @nawabmalikncp ji showed yesterday that Central govt had stopped supplies of Remdesivir to Maharashtra govt, then how was BJPs Fadnavis allowed to procure it sneakily without informing the state govt? That too stock worth 4.75 crores?” he added.

The political slugfest started on Saturday morning when Maharashtra minister and NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged the Centre was pressuring some Remdesivir producers to not sell their stock in Maharashtra.

Joining state BJP leaders, two Central ministers hit back at the Maharashtra government, calling these allegations “a lie” and termed them an attempt to politicise the pandemic.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad