Maharashtra: BJP chief in controversy over Remdesivir stockpile

Mumbai police questioned a pharma company director over alleged excess stock of the Remdesivir drug and allowed him to leave after he produced necessary documents, a police official said on Sunday.

Mumbai: The Director of Bruck Pharma, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Daman, was summoned on Saturday by the Mumbai police about a huge quantity of the drug stored in Mumbai. Cops allege that the Remdesivir stockpile of 60,000 vials was going to be flown out of India despite an export ban as demand for the drug is skyrocketing amidst rising COVID-19 cases. The case however took a murky turn with the involvement of BJP’s

Former Maharashtra chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said that he had coordinated with Bruck Pharma for the supply of Remdesivir among patients in Maharashtra. Fadnavis claimed had he requested Bruck Pharma for supplying Remdesivir, but they were unable to comply due to a lack of FDA approval. Fadnavis then coordinated with union minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers, and secured the approval on Saturday evening, after a span of four days.

According to media reports, Fadnavis then alleged that he came to know about the Bruck Pharma official’s arrest (the cops have now claimed that they only called him in for questioning) he rushed to the police station and showed the FDA permission letter to the cops.

“Four days ago, we had requested Bruck Pharma to supply a stock of Remdesivir vials to Maharashtra. They said they couldn’t until permissions were given. I spoke with Union Minister Mansukh Mandviya and got Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s permission. Tonight around nine pm, the police arrested him,” Fadnavis told reporters.

The former Maharashtra Chief Minister added that the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Manjunath Singe told they had inputs that some exporters had 60,000 vials and they only wanted to verify the same.

“We showed the police the permission letter. He (DCP) said it wasn’t communicated to them earlier,” the BJP leader added. He added that whatever happened was wrong. He also visited Singe’s office to discuss police action to summon distributor of Remdesivir for Inquiry. Activist Saket Gokhale however posed some questions regarding the entire incident in a series of tweets:

Moreover, the fracas doesn’t explain as to how or why a pharma company owner agreed to drop in supplies of the drug which is currently running short across India.

Bruck Pharma manufactures lypholized injections like Remdesivir, liquid injections, tablets and capsules. It is one of the 16 manufacturers of Remdesivir in India that has permission to export. Its manufacturing unit is in Dabhel, in Daman.

The pharma company however does not have a marketing license, and in order to sell Remdesivir it has to approach one of seven pharma companies that have marketing license for Remdesivir in India. Last week, the Gujarat BJP unit controversially distributed Remdesivir injections from its party office in Navsari and Surat. The Gujarat government was also in the line of fire for shipping Remdesvir supplies to Uttar Pradesh, with opposition parties alleging that it was supplying to BJP ruled states.

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