Covid drugs racket: SIT lens on Delhi hos­pi­tals and phar­ma­cists

Po­lice have so far ar­rested four Iraqi in­ter­preters, three phar­ma­cists — two from Delhi and one from Jharsa — and a med­i­cal store at­ten­dant in the case

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Gurugram - HT Cor­re­spon­dent htre­porters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

GU­RU­GRAM: A special in­ves­ti­ga­tions team (SIT) prob­ing the al­leged racket wherein phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs and medicines, in­clud­ing those used in the treat­ment of Covid-19 and can­cer, were be­ing smug­gled to Iraq, has de­cided to widen its probe af­ter three Del­hibased phar­ma­cists were nabbed last week.

The SIT now is look­ing at the roles of hos­pi­tals and dis­trib­u­tors of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts in the na­tional cap­i­tal.

In the past three days, po­lice have con­ducted raids in Delhi and the five-mem­ber SIT, headed by an ACP rank of­fi­cer, has re­ceived in­puts to sug­gest in­volve­ment of hos­pi­tals, from where the phar­ma­cists were able to source remde­sivir .

Remde­sivir —an ex­per­i­men­tal drug ad­min­is­tered to Covid-19 pa­tients in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions — is di­rectly sup­plied from man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies to the hos­pi­tals and there are no stock­ists of the drug.

Chan­der Mo­han, deputy com­mis­sioner of po­lice (DCP), east, said, “So far, the chain has led to phar­ma­cists in Delhi and we have ob­tained leads to sug­gest in­volve­ment of some hos­pi­tals. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is fo­cused on who was sup­ply­ing these medicines, which are in short sup­ply, to these phar­ma­cists.”

So far, four Iraqi in­ter­preters, three phar­ma­cists — two from Delhi and one from Jharsa in Gu­ru­gram — and a med­i­cal store at­ten­dant have been ar­rested for their al­leged in­volve­ment in the chain. The nexus came to the fore af­ter the po­lice and drug con­trol de­part­ment had con­ducted two raids on July 28, fol­low­ing which four

Iraqi na­tion­als were ar­rested.

Forty eight vials of remde­sivir, 55 strips of Fab­i­flu (Favipi­ravir) and 18 packs of Lopikast — the three drugs used in the treat­ment of pa­tients in­fected with SARS-CoV-2 virus — among a large cache of an­tibi­otics, antacids, anti-al­ler­gic and other can­cer treat­ment medicines, were re­cov­ered in the raid. One SUV and Rs 74.55 lakh cash was also seized. In sub­se­quent in­ves­ti­ga­tions, po­lice had ar­rested one Pardeep from Jharsa, who had al­legedly sup­plied remde­sivir to one of the ar­rested Iraqi na­tion­als.

Eighty four in­jec­tions of remde­sivir, which Pardeep had al­legedly hid­den in a room near a tube­well in his vil­lage in Pataudi, were re­cov­ered by the po­lice. He had re­vealed dur­ing ques­tion­ing that he had pur­chased the in­jec­tions for Rs 15,000 per vial from a sup­plier in Delhi and sold them for Rs 18,000 per vial. Based on in­puts from his ques­tion­ing, po­lice went to ar­rest three peo­ple from Delhi, iden­ti­fied as Shahid, Faizan and Tarun.

Po­lice probe has found that the Iraqi in­ter­preters, who worked with city-based hos­pi­tals, had been smug­gling medicines to Iraq for at least two years and since the pan­demic, they had started deal­ing pri­mar­ily in drugs used to treat Covid-19 which were in short sup­ply.

These drugs were sold at ex­or­bi­tant prices in Iraq. The sus­pects worked as trans­la­tors for med­i­cal tourism pa­tients at pri­vate hos­pi­tals and en­listed the pa­tients or their at­ten­dants as con­duits and asked them to carry medicines along with their per­sonal medicines in the flights to Iraq, where an aide would col­lect it from them.

SOURCED

The cache of medicines that were re­cov­ered by the po­lice af­ter the ar­rest of the Iraqi in­ter­preters.

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