HC seeks DRDO, Centre replies on Covid-19 drug
The Madras high court on Thursday directed the Centre to respond by Friday and explain why the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has tied up with only Dr Reddy’s Laboratory in Hyderabad to develop the 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG), a drug for Covid-19 treatment.
The court wondered why the DRDO has not issued licences to other reputed labs to augment production of the oral drug since studies have shown that it is effective against all Covid-19 variants. Besides DRDO, the high court also sought a response from the ministry of defence and the Union health ministry.
Justices N Kirubakaran and T V Thamilsevli issued the interim direction based on a public interest litigation (PIL) that contended that a monopoly over this drug would not be wise when lakhs of lives were being lost in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The petitioner, D Saravanan from Chennai, stated that it was ‘shocking’ that the licence for manufacturing was granted only to Dr Reddy’s after the Drug Controller General of India had authorised the 2-DG drug for emergency use as adjunct therapy for moderate to severely affected patients. Developed by DRDO’s Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, the lab planned to price it at ₹990 per sachet containing 2.34 grams. He insisted that it should be manufactured on war-footing. The drug comes in a powder form packed in a sachet. Union defence minister Rajnath Singh and health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had in May released the first batch of the 2-DG drug.
The petition sought to urge DRDO to share the technical know-how for the production of the drug, the licence to be granted to multiple pharmaceutical companies, and to ensure that the pricing is affordable.