Despite orders from the national drug regulator to keep strict vigil to prevent overpricing and black marketing of the antiviral drug, remdesivir, which is used to treat COVID-19 infection, the drugs control department in Tamil Nadu has found that the drug is overpriced and black-marketed in Madurai district in the state.
Based on reports of violations, the state drug regulator has initiated legal action against five persons involved in the activities of black marketing and overpricing of the antiviral drug. The five persons were dealing with retail pharma business in Madurai city and in nearby places. However, their pharmacies have been allowed to run the business till the investigation is completed, said M Sivabalan, the director of the DCA.
“We have found that five persons were involved in the activities of black marketing and overpricing of the antiviral injection, remdesivir, in Madurai. They were charging prices more than the MRP and it was sold in the black market. Our regulators have identified five pharmacies and legal actions have been taken against them, and investigation is going on”, he told Pharmabiz.
Sivabalan said the drug, remdesivir is available in black markets all over Tamil Nadu, and the department will conduct a special drive to unearth it.
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R Ravichandran, assistant drugs controller in Madurai said since the case is under investigation he is unable to divulge more details other than what was shared by the director. Either the DC or the ADC did not reveal the names of the persons or of the pharmacies. However, another source from the DCA said some persons were directly procuring the injection vials from C&F agents and were selling to some hospitals in Madurai city. The department enquiry is going on that way.
Kovai Kasiraman, executive committee member of the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association (TNCDA) said in Coimbatore district no such unethical or illegal business is going on and the drugs control department is strictly monitoring the sale of remdesivir in Coimbatore. He said the drug traders in Coimbatore city do not resort to any kind of unethical practice. When asked about the Madurai incident, Kasiraman said serious discussion is going on in the whatsapp group of TNCDA members about the Remdesivir incident in Madurai.
Meanwhile, the drug inspector in Palani under Madurai ADC, said since COVID is rapidly increasing in the district of Theni, all the pharmacists and other employees of the medical stores in the district are advised to conduct RT-PCR test to detect whether positive cases are there among the pharma traders. He said an investigation about the overpricing and black marketing of the antiviral agent is carried out by the ADC in Madurai.
Last month the DCGI issued circulars to all states and union territories asking the drug regulators to keep a vigil on black marketing and overpricing of remdesivir.