Published On : Wed, Apr 28th, 2021

Reserve 20% oxygen beds for future shortage, Bombay HC tells Nagpur authorities

Mumbai: In a significant order, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court has ordered the Maharashtra goverment to ensure that no private pharmacist places orders for Remdesivir and other essential drugs directly. The HC has ordered the authorities in Nagpur district to keep 20 per cent oxygen beds in reserve and not to give it to any patient.

The bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Avinash Gharote said these 20 per cent oxygen beds could be used in extreme urgency when there would be acute shortage of oxygen beds.

The bench while hearing a suo motu petition on Covid crisis was informed by the dean of a government hospital that he is suggested by Brain Trusters, Hospital Project Management Consultancy Services to keep 20 per cent oxygen beds in reserve.

“The Consultant has advised us to earmark by 20 per cent oxygen beds as contingency beds on the ground that there has been a sudden increase in demand of oxygen and on the another hand, supply of oxygen is erratic and, therefore, a situation may arise that on a given day there is not available sufficient storage of oxygen, which may lead to collapse of entire distribution system leading to endangering of lives of all patients,” the dean submitted.

At this, the bench said, “An apprehension so expressed is reasonable, and, therefore, reduction of oxygen beds by 20 per cent as advised by the Consultant can be accepted and we do accept it.”

“This would mean that 20 per cent of the total 600 (at government hospital) oxygen beds would not be permitted to be occupied by any patient and these beds would exist only to meet any contingency of an unforeseen nature like tripping of oxygen storage plant,” the bench clarified.

Accordingly, a directive has been issued. The bench has further asked the authorities in Nagpur to ensure that there is consistent supply of oxygen as per the requirement.

The authorities are further asked to permit several government and private hospitals to start up an oxygen plant on their premises.

During the course of the hearing, the bench was informed that certain private pharmacists in Nagpur and Vidharbha region have ordered vials of Remdesivir, which is against the policy decision of the Union as well as the Maharashtra government.

The bench accordingly referred to an affidavit filed by the Nagpur commissioner, which reflected that certain “private purchasers” have indeed placed orders for Remdesivir.

“It has become clear that there are some districts where the private pharmacies are directly placing the orders with the pharmaceutical companies for supply of Remdesivir drug. We do not understand the reason for this when the procurement and supply of Remdesivir has been centralized now,” the bench said.

“There is no reason why in some of the districts at their individual levels some of the private pharmacies have been permitted to place their orders directly to pharmaceutical companies. State would have to consider stopping this practice,” the judges added.

The matter would be next heard on Thursday.