Mumbai police questioned a pharma company director over alleged excess stock of the Remdesivir drug and allowed him to leave after he produced necessary documents, a police official said on Sunday.
“He had stocked at least 60,000 vials. The state and central governments had allowed him to sell the stock, originally meant for export, in the domestic market due to scarcity of the drug used to treat coronavirus patients,” the police official said.
The opposition BJP in Maharashtra objected to the pharma executive’s grilling by Mumbai police, saying the Shiv Sena-led government in the state was playing politics amid the pandemic.
“Four days ago we had requested Bruck Pharma to supply us Remdesivir but they couldn’t until permission was given. I spoke to Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya and we got FDA’s permission,” former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis said.
The BJP leader claimed that a Maharashtra minister’s officer on special duty called the pharma executive and asked him how he could provide Remdesivir on the appeal of opposition parties.
The pharma executive was picked up from his house on Saturday night by 10 policemen, Mr Fadnavis said, describing the action as “beyond his imagination”.
The Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly said the state government was harassing the Daman-based pharma as BJP leaders approached him for the supply of the antiviral medication to the state.
“We (BJP leaders) had contacted Bruck Pharma to supply the stock to Maharashtra as the state is facing a shortage of Remdesivir vials. We even informed the state FDA minister about it and approached the Union government seeking necessary permissions.”
Some Maharashtra BJP leaders went to Daman recently to meet Bruck Pharma officials, requesting them to sell their exportable stock in Maharashtra, Mr Fadnavis said.
“They were told by the company that if the Centre and state government approve, they will sell their entire stock to Maharashtra,” Mr Fadnavis said.
A senior Mumbai police official said, “A director of a pharma company, which supplies Remdesivir, was questioned by the police in connection with the stock of the vials.”
“Based on specific information, police held the pharma company director at Vile Parle,” he said.
After export was banned, he had stocked up at least 60,000 vials of the drug. The state and central government has allowed him to sell it in the (domestic) market, he said.
“As we found he did not violate any laws, we did not take any legal action against him. He was questioned about the stock, following which he produced necessary documents,” the official said.
The political slugfest started on Saturday morning when Maharashtra minister and NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged the Centre was pressurising some Remdesivir producers to not sell their stock in Maharashtra.
Joining state BJP leaders, two Central ministers hit back at the Maharashtra government, calling these allegations “a lie” and termed them an attempt to politicise the pandemic.
Mr Fadnavis said, “Malik and some ministers have nothing to do with the troubles of people suffering from coronavirus pandemic. They are more interested in indulging in politics.”