A group of five people, found to be recycling vials of the antiviral drug remdesivir with a saline solution mixed with paracetamol and selling them to COVID-19 patients, were arrested by the Mysuru police on Tuesday. Mysuru Police Commissioner Chandragupta said that they have started a massive undertaking to trace at least 900 patients who bought the recycled doses of remdesivir in the last six months.
"We started probing the issue and we landed upon a case in which a staff nurse was masterminding a racket. Original remdesivir bottles were being recycled with some other antibiotic and saline that looked alike. This was marketed and sold and we have arrested the nurse," Mysuru Police Commissioner Chandragupta said.
Investigating police recovered over 40 remdesivir injections and Rs 2.82 lakh in cash. "We are finding out the ramifications of this racket and where all it has been supplied," he added. The police said that they came across the racket recently, while investigating cases of people selling remdesivir illegally. The drug, which costs between Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 was being sold for upto Rs 20,000 by people who hoarded the drug.
The police were led to Girish, a nurse in a private hospital in Mysuru's Vidya Nagar. Police arrested him after sending a decoy to purchase vials of remdesivir from him. After he was questioned, he told the police that he was selling a fake medicine. Vials labelled as remdesivir were found to be a mix of paracetamol and a saline solution.
TNM had earlier reported a shortage of the drug remdesivir in Bengaluru hospital,s prompting patients to scramble and source the drug themselves. Remdesivir is an antiviral drug administered to COVID-19 patients.
Read: COVID-19: Shortage of Remdesivir in Bengaluru hospitals, state govt denies it
It is to be noted that the NITI Aayog member VK Paul said in a press briefing held on Tuesday, that remdesivir does not reduce the mortality rate. "Remdesivir reduces hospital stay, suppresses disease a bit but does not reduce mortality rate. Please use #remdesivir only in hospitals, not at home. Hype of medicine should be lowered. It shouldn't be used in more than 8-10% cases, more than that will be irrational use," he said.