Mumbai police summoned a director of Bruck Pharma, a Daman-based pharmaceutical manufacturing company that manufactures Remdesivir for questioning about a huge quantity of the drug stored in Mumbai.
The person, who the police did not identify, was let go from the Vile Parle police station where he was questioned for about 45 minutes.
The police said the Remdesivir stockpile was going to be illegally flown out abroad by air cargo, though export of of the drug has been banned by the government.
But it appears that the stock had been arranged by the BJP for distribution in Maharashtra. On learning that company director was being questioned, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and another top BJP leader Praveen Darekar rushed to the police station.
There, the two leaders declared to media persons that the Maharashtra unit of the BJP had taken the initiative to reach out to various pharma companies due to the shortage of Remdesivir.
In a written statement, Fadnavis said it was “our sincere attempt to get remdesivar for Maharashtra. And accordingly we were all trying when suddenly Bruck Farma official was detained by Mumbai police.”
He said a Maharashtra minister’s OSD had called company officials and asked them threateningly as to how they provide remdesivar at the request of the opposition party.
Fadnavis said late the evening, 10 police persons had detained the Bruck Farma company official.
“As the opposition leader I visited the Ville Parle police station to get explanation on these developments,” he said.
Darekar said he went to Daman on Monday to tie sup with Bruck Pharma.
“We wanted to distribute the drug through the state government. As a noble gesture we decided to foot the entire cost of Rs 4.75 crore. Fadnavis was to hand over the Remdesivir stock to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray,” said Darekar, claiming that state minister for Food and Drugs Rajendra Shingne was in the know of the plan as it required state permission.
Amid allegations levelled by Fadnavis that the police were unnecessarily harassing the Bruck employee, Deputy Commissioner of Police, zone 8, Manjunath Shinge told the Indian Express, “We had received information from our network that a huge quantity of Remdesivir made in Daman is being stored in Mumbai and will be transported out of the country by Air cargo. We all know how important the Remdesivir medicine is for treating Covid-19 patients and it’s a matter of life and death. There is a shortage of this medicine and its export has been stopped by the government. Hence, we acted swiftly and called the owner of the pharma company just to question him about where the medicine has been stored in the city. We acted in good faith for the larger interest of public.”
A police officer at the Vile Parle police station said,” We just wanted to know why the medicine is being stored and not distributed when it’s in such high demand. It could have been black marketed.”
The Mumbai Police said they had no idea why Fadnavis intervened in their investigations.
Bruck Pharma manufactures lypholized injections like Remdesivir, liquid injections, tablets and capsules.
It is one of the 16 manufacturers of Remdesivir in India that has permission to export. Its manufacturing unit is in Dabhel, in Daman.
The pharma company however does not have a marketing license, and in order to sell Remdesivir it has to approach one of seven pharma companies that have marketing license for Remdesivir in India.
“Four days ago our leaders Pravin Darekar and Prasad Lal had gone to Daman to Bruck Pharma and requested them to supply the drug to Maharashtra. They obliged but said they did not have the license. Then I spoke to Mansukh Mandaviya( minister of state I/c of ports, shipping and waterways) and got them the license,” Fadnavis said.
State FDA officials said they were planning to give emergency approval to a few manufacturers for direct sale. “But right now it in the talks stage. Bruck has not been given marketing approval yet,” said one official.
The Directors of the company are Shirish Kejriwal, Rajesh Dokania, Devendra Kejriwal and Anshu Kejriwal. Devendra Kejriwal is chairman.
Last week, the Gujarat BJP controversially distributed Remdesivir injections from its party office in Navsari and Surat. The Gujarat government was also in the line of fire for shipping Remdesvir supplies to Uttar Pradesh, with opposition parties alleging that it was supplying to BJP ruled states.
The late night fracas came hours after Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik alleged that the Centre was had asked Remdesivir manufacturers not to supply to Maharashtra. He said under the circumstances, the state government would have no choice but to seize the stocks from these export manufacturers and supply it those who need them.