The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday, through an order on the Suo Moto PIL, suggested the Gujarat government should change the Remdesivir distribution policy, which was based on the local authority’s discretion. The High Court said that Remdesivir’s distribution should be based on the patient’s needs. The Court told the government to reconsider its existing policy.
The High Court’s division bench of Chief Justice Vikramnath and Justice Bhargav D. Karia, suggested the Principal Health Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, Jayanti Ravi to reconsider the state’s existing distribution policy for Remdesivir. “The state must convene an emergent meeting of all stakeholders and take an appropriate policy decision which should run throughout the state, instead of a policy that permits district-level discretion.”
The division bench was listening to the third hearing on the Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding the recent upsurge in Covid cases in Gujarat.
During the hearing and in its submission to the court in an affidavit, the Gujarat government said that Remdesivir injection which were made available to the state would be utilised in order of preference as listed by it.
According to the submission, the government’s stock of Remdesivir vials is first administered to the patients on ventilators in the government or corporation-run hospitals, then to patients on ventilators in the designated Covid-19 hospitals, before the patients admitted at Intensive Care Units in government or corporation-run hospitals and those at Covid-19 designated hospitals. Thereafter, it can be administered to the patients admitted on oxygen beds subject to their prognosis.
The Gujarat government’s affidavit said, “If further stock remains with the government or corporation, it could be distributed among the private hospitals, nursing homes, home care patients on doctor’s prescription considering the condition of the patient. However, if the government does not have any surplus or if it is unable to cater to its own in-house demand, it cannot provide to the private sector.”
The court was not satisfied with this policy. The court observed, “The policy should be of the government and should not be left at the discretion of the individual corporation and district collectors regarding distribution of Remdesivir injection when the same is in short supply. There has to be a reasonable policy of the state, taking into consideration the overall factors and to ensure that all patients falling in the same category should be first administered or provided with Remdesivir injections (regardless of whether it is a private or a government facility).”
The court also stated that the condition of a patient should be the criteria for providing Remdesivir injection and “not whether he/she is admitted in a private or government facility”. It added that an appropriate policy decision “should run throughout the state i.e. it should be made applicable for the entire state and should not be left at the discretion of municipal commissioners or collectors. The distribution may be at the level of the Commissioner or Collector, but the policy to be followed must be framed by the state”.
The High Court, in its decision, had taken into consideration the submissions made by the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association and Indian Medical Association’s Gujarat chapter.
The IMA Gujarat said in its submission, “The state must supply adequate stock of Remdesivir injections to private sectors also as either that, the government should take up on itself to provide admission and complete treatment to all Covid patients and if it cannot do then provide injections to the private sector as well.”