COVID-19 test kits should be made available at lowest cost: Delhi HC

COVID-19 test kits should be made available urgently at the lowest possible price so that the virus can be controlled and people’s health can be safeguarded at a time when the country was facing an “unprecedented medical crisis”, the Delhi High Court has said. Justice Najmi Waziri issued the direction to three private companies which had entered into an agreement to import 10 lakh test kits from China and distribute them here at a cost of Rs 600 each, the rate approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

The court said that in the “present extraordinary circumstances” when the country was going through an “unprecedented medical crisis”, with a disquiet over one’s safety and the economy at a standstill, the public interest must outweigh the private. “The litigation between the parties (the three companies) should give way to the larger public good. In view of the above, the kits/tests should be sold at a price not beyond Rs 400 each,” it said. However, the order would not affect price of the kits to be sold to ICMR and the Tamil Nadu government. The order came on the plea of Rare Metabolics Life Sciences Pvt Ltd and Aark Pharmaceuticals which had entered into an agreement with Matrix Labs, the importer of the kits, to distribute the kits in India.

Rare Metabolics and Aark, the petitioner companies, moved the court seeking release of 7.24 lakh COVID-19 test kits from Matrix which was seeking full payment upfront before delivering them. Out of the 7.24 lakh kits, five lakh were to be supplied to ICMR by Aark at a total cost of Rs 30 crore, the court was told. According to the petition, the initial order was for 10 lakh kits of which five lakh were meant for ICMR. Out of the five lakh meant for ICMR, 2.76 lakh had already been delivered, the plea said.

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