Covid drug cartel

Check illegal trade, maintain supply chain

Covid drug cartel

The treatment for coronavirus has thrown up its own set of problems. With no known protocol for treating the disease, the pandemic has seen a renewed thrust being laid on public healthcare, with facilities being ramped up in government hospitals, while private hospitals have been providing care amid charges of being unaffordable. Another dimension has now been added to the problem with the revelation that a drug smuggling cartel has been busted in Gurugram that not only hoarded medicines for Covid treatment but also was to smuggle these on a Vande Bharat flight. What is worse is that the cartel managed to procure the list of travellers and planned to send the medicines in small batches with Iraqi nationals.

Hospitals for Covid treatment in Gurugram are now under the scanner because the drugs are supposed to be directly provided to the hospitals by the manufacturing company after verifying patients’ details. The drug department too is given a daily dispensing report of these medicines. The police are probing if any hospital helped the accused in procuring the drugs. An alert has also been sounded to check the sale of Covid drugs on the black market in Haryana. The involvement of foreign nationals is a matter of grave concern, for it may involve national security. That the cartel could think of pulling off the deal at a time when flights are restricted and frisking for security should have been tighter are all aspects that should be looked into.

Unlike India, Iraq has been in turmoil, faced with war and sanctions. The violence has affected hospitals, doctors and other medical staff, besides the supply of medical essentials. The raging coronavirus in neighbouring Iran has also fuelled concerns. The chaos has meant laxity, leading to smuggling of drugs from various countries, including India, where the prices are much lower as compared to other countries, assuring lucrative returns for the smugglers. While efforts are being made to boost the manufacturing and supply of Covid drugs to meet the demand, the government should clamp down on their illegal trade while looking into the possibility of humanitarian assistance to other countries.

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