New Delhi: Health groups expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court refusing to recall its earlier order in which it had disposed of a plea seeking an enquiry into alleged negligence by the government in running public sector laboratories involved in making vaccines.
The groups are now considering filing a fresh petition, as the court also said in case there is any deficiency or neglect on the part of the Government… the petitioner shall be free to seek appropriate redress in appropriate proceedings at the appropriate stage.
Dr Mira Shiva of AIDAN, a petitioner in the case, claimed the court relied only on the government’s claims regarding revival and modernization of suspended public sector laboratories and did not take into account the last rejoinder of the petitioners that highlighted the increasing diversion of purchase orders to the private sector at ever-increasing prices.
The PIL was filed by former Union health secretary SP Shukla and representatives of the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), Low Cost Standard Therapeutics (LOCOST), Medico Friend Circle (MFC), and Society for Scientific Values (SSV).
Shukla, who is the main petitioner, said they have won half the battle with the revival of the suspended PSUs and their modernization for compliance with good manufacturing practices (GMP), under the pressure of the case.
“But their production is yet to be restored to pre-suspension levels, the responsibility for mala fide suspension was not fixed, and even the recommendations of the Javid Chowdhury Committee have not been fully implemented,” he said.
According to S Srinivasan of LOCOST, the government has not been buying vaccines from the public sector even after their revival.
“Government data show that purchase orders to PSUs are declining and those to private companies are growing despite increasing prices. We highlighted all these issues in our last affidavit on 2016 to show that the Government of India is misleading the Supreme Court, but it was not taken into account,” Srinivasan said.
“We neither have a rational vaccine policy nor the rational use of vaccines.
For example, selective immunization has disappeared from government policy. New vaccines and their combinations of doubtful efficacy and safety are being introduced in the universal immunization programme.
“By shifting its procurement towards irrational cocktail vaccines made only by the private sector, the government is systematically reducing PSUs into component suppliers to the private sector,” Dr Shiva alleged.