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