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Covid-19: Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority Issues Warning on Black Marketing of Medical Oxygen

A medical worker stands next to an oxygen cylinder at the Yatharth Hospital in Noida, on September 15, 2020. (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

A medical worker stands next to an oxygen cylinder at the Yatharth Hospital in Noida, on September 15, 2020. (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Medical oxygen is a scheduled drug and that strict action must be taken under the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and also the Essential Commodities Act to prevent black-marketing and hoarding, the NPPA said in its letter to the state drug controllers.

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Sneha Mordani

With Covid-19 cases in the country crossing the 5.4 million-mark and over 90,000 new cases being reported every day, the demand for medical oxygen has increased in the country. The central government finds itself in a position where the crucial drug is being hoarded and black-marketed, leading to shortages.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has now written to state drug controllers, asking them to cater to the demand of medical oxygen and ensure its uninterrupted availability. Medical oxygen is a scheduled drug and that strict action must be taken under the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and also the Essential Commodities Act to prevent black-marketing and hoarding, the NPPA said in its letter to the state drug controllers.

The health ministry this week said there is no question of shortage of oxygen in the country. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a press briefing on September 14 said that a little over 6% Covid-19 patients in the country were in requirement of oxygen. Hospitals should have robust inventory management he, said, while also encouraging rationalised use of oxygen to ensure that no artificial scarcity is created.

The Centre has asked states to ensure that there is no delay in the supply of oxygen. "Each state needs to ensure proper inventory management so that oxygen can be replenished in time," Bhushan said.

Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla too has written to chief secretaries of all states, asking states to ensure there is no disruption in the movement of oxygen supplies.

On Saturday, cabinet secretary, union health secretary, the secretary for department of promotion of industry and internal trade, and NITI Aayog member (health) held a meeting with 12 states and UTs having the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths. These states were advised to focus on analysing district level and health facility level status, and plan and manage logistical issues related to oxygen availability.


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