2 Delhi-based pharmacists questioned for illegal supply of Covid-19 drugs
The police on Friday questioned two pharmacists from Delhi for several hours regarding their alleged involvement in supplying Covid-19 and cancer treatment drugs to other pharmacists and four Iraqi nationals, who were arrested for allegedly smuggling such drugs to their country.
On Tuesday, the police had arrested four Iraqi nationals in two separate raids from Sector 47 and Sector 57 after the drug control department had received a tip-off. Forty eight vials of remdesivir, 55 strips of favipiravir and 18 packs of Lopikast — the three drugs which are used in Covid-19 treatment — were recovered along with a large cache of antibiotics, antacids, antiallergic drugs and cancer treatment medicines in the raids. One SUV and ₹74.55 lakh cash were also seized.
Senior police officials privy to the investigation said that the names of the pharmacists who were questioned on Friday had cropped up in the investigation after the arrest of another pharmacist named Pradeep from Jharsa, Sector 38, on Wednesday, who revealed that he had procured remdesivir from a supplier in Delhi.
Chander Mohan, deputy commissioner of police (DCP), east, said, “The pharmacists from Delhi were questioned about the alleged nexus and how they were able to source drugs used to treat Covid-19, since these are directly sold by manufacturing companies to hospitals. We are also carrying out raids at several places in Delhi-NCR to identify more suspects.”
Police said Pardeep, who had allegedly hidden 84 vials of remdesivir in a room next to a tube well in his village in Pataudi, told them that he had been in touch with the Iraqi nationals or one year.
A police official privy to the investigation, requesting anonymity, said, “Pardeep was earlier supplying medicines to Iraqi nationals, who worked with private hospitals as interpreters and were acquainted with medical tourism patients. After the pandemic broke out, he decided to source drugs used to treat Covid-19 and sell them for a mark up. The first consignment of remdesivir injections that he had procured from Delhi was sold to the Iraqi nationals.”
On Thursday, the police had said that the names of several pharmacists had come up during questioning and the role of some hospitals had come under scanner. The police probe has found that the suspects had been smuggling medicines to Iraq for at least two years and, since the pandemic, they had started dealing in drugs used to treat Covid-19 patients. These drugs, which are in short supply, are sold at exorbitant prices in Iraq.