Mystery about source of Remdesivir in black market

Remdesivir antiviral injectable drug.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

In the last fortnight, not a day has gone by without the city police making an arrest for sale of Remdesivir in the black market. Since the State government has regulated the Remdesivir market, both the police as well as the Karnataka State Drugs Control Department are intrigued about the source of the medicine in the black market. There are also concerns about fake medicines being sold.

A senior drugs control officer explained that even the pharma company producing Remdesivir is not allowed free trade of the drug in Karnataka.

“Hospitals have to raise indent with the local Drugs Control Officer on a dedicated portal, submitting details of the patient. The department will allot Remdesivir to the hospital based on severity of the case and availability of the drug. The supplier will have to supply to the hospital directly, strictly based on allotment made by the department,” the officer explained. “Given how the entire supply chain is regulated, we are curious about the source of the vials in the black market,” he said.

A review of several rackets busted in the city indicates three sources – swindling from hospitals after allocation from the Drugs Control Department, procuring from States where Remdesivir is still available in the open market, and in a few cases, fakes, a senior police official said.

“In multiple cases, we have arrested people working at hospitals for trying to sell vials in black. While the department allots five vials for each patient, in many cases, hospitals are administering lesser doses, in some cases raising indents for patients who do not need the medicine. Some of these are finding their way into the black market,” said Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant.

But they had not come across any widespread network selling fakes, except in one case where a lab assistant was refilling used vials and trying to sell them.

The Drugs Control Department has now asked hospitals to preserve empty vials after administering the medicine to patients and be made available for surprise inspection, to ensure that the vials do not find their way into the black market, said a senior officer in the Remdesivir and oxygen war room established by the Department Health and Family Welfare.

Online racket

As the demand for Remdesivir is high, online fraudsters are taking money promising Remdesivir but not delivering the medicine. The city police cracked one such racket recently.

“A chemist lodged a complaint that she paid ₹30,000 to an account based on a message on WhatsApp, but did not get Remdesivir as promised. We uncovered a string of mule accounts, and arrested an Indian and a Nigerian. Preliminary investigations revealed at least 14 transactions where people were duped to the tune of ₹4.2 lakh,” said a senior official probing the case.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 3:57:48 AM |

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