HC to Centre: Why DRDO’s COVID drug licence given to only one lab?
Wondering as to why the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was confining the issue of licence for producing 2-deoxyD-glucose (2-DG), an adjunct drug to treat COVID-19 patients, to a single lab when it should be ramping up production to save lives
The Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Centre to explain by Friday the reason for the having partnered with Dr Reddy’s Laboratory in Hyderabad alone for such production.
A division bench comprising Justice N Kirubakaran and TV Thamilselvi before whom a plea in this regard came up sought the Centre to explain as to why the DRDO had not issued licences to as many reputed laboratories as possible to ramp up production of the oral powder that has been approved to be used as an adjunct in treating moderate to severe COVID-19 patients. “It was imperative on the part of the government to give a fillip to the production, especially when lakhs had died during the first two waves of the pandemic and the threat of the third wave was looming large,” Justice Kirubakaran said.
The public interest litigation filed in this regard by D Saravanan, a private sector employee in Chennai submitted that DRDO’s Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) had come up with the oral powder 2-DG and obtained emergency use authorisation from the Drugs Controller General of India. But the licence for manufacturing the drug had been granted only to Dr Reddy’s laboratory in Hyderabad, his counsel said. The plea further pointed out that while the said lab had planned to sell it at Rs 990 per sachet containing 2.34 g of the oral powder, such monopoly will not augur well in such trying times when lakhs of lives were being lost to the pandemic. Based on this, the plea sought the grant of such licence to multiple pharmaceutical companies and also direct the DRDO to not only share the technical knowhow about the drug with multiple pharmaceutical companies but also ensure that it was sold at an affordable price.