BJP alleges corruption, but Mumbai authorities say Haffkine tender had no response
Geetanjali Minhas | April 16, 2021 | Mumbai
Countering the opposition BJP’s allegations of corruption in the procurement of Remdesivir, a critical anti-viral injection often prescribed for Covid-19 patients, the BrihanMumbai municipal corporation (BMC) has clarified that its decision to procure the drug was aimed at saving lives even if it meant spending some extra money to procure it.
Remdesivir, said to be a life-saving drug for some serious patients, is in high demand in Maharashtra, which has been registering upwards of 50,000 new cases every day for some time. It is also in short supply, with reports of astronomical prices in the black market.
The BMC has procured Remdesivir at Rs 1568 per vial as against the state-owned Haffkine Institute’s order price of Rs 565 and the wholesale price of Rs 1200. That promoted BJP to demand a probe by the Anti-Corruption Bureau. But the civic authorities have refuted the allegations as incorrect.
The BMC has said that after Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceutical Corporation placed an order to procure 57,100 vials of Remdesivir at the rate of Rs 665 on April 1, 2021 and received no supply, BMC on April 5 floated a tender for purchase of 2,00,000 vials of Remdesivir which was due on April 7.
A single bid was received from Mylan Laboratories on April 7 at 4.00 pm with the price of Rs 1,568 inclusive of GST per each vial. At that time BMC had stocks of 10,471 vials which would last for barely three-four days. That day BMC had approached Cipla for supplies of around 10,000 vials and Cipla had expressed its inability to commit supply of any vial immediately.
Given the high demand, Mylan refused to reduce its bid price. With more than 17,431 beds under the BMC occupied by Covid patients on April 7, it went ahead and placed an order to procure 2,00,000 vials of Remdesivir out of which 25,000 vials were received immediately.
[BJP meanwhile has cited a letter dated April 9 from Haffkine to Cadilla Healthcare confirming its bid for 57,100 vials at Rs 665.84 each for a total price of Rs 3,80,19,464.]
As per BMC, the Haffkine order of 57,100 vials at the rate of Rs.665 has not elicited any response so far and no supplies have been made. It also said that a false perception has been created that Remdesivir has been procured at very high rates.
“It was imperative to act fast and decisively to procure Remdesivir on 7th April 2021 or MCGM would have faced a huge crisis to treat patients. Any delay would have resulted in Remdesivir going out to other cities and states of India, bringing a bad name to MCGM especially when Mumbai is the financial capital of India. Between money and human lives, MCGM opted to save all possible human lives even if it meant spending extra amount of money for securing 2,00,000 vials of Remdesivir,” said municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal.
The BMC also points out that on April 14, the Pune divisional commissioner had requested it (BMC) to spare 20,000 vials of Remdesivir at its purchase price of Rs 1568 per vial, saying that Mylan had declined to supply due to prior commitments and lack of stocks.
Also, the BMC has pointed out that Mylan has received orders from several authorities including the Surat municipal corporation, the Satara district hospital, the commissioner of medical education in Madhya Pradesh, the NHM mission director in Assam, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation and Gujarat Medical Services Corporation.
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