Citizens' Issues
Court Comes to the Rescue of Ailing Girl
For Zoroastrians, the holiest of holies is Udvada, a village in south Gujarat. It is loaded, or at least it was, with priests. When, over a hundred years ago, the British insisted on everyone having a surname, those who had none chose either their profession or their place of residence. Those from Udvada became Udvadias.
 
Fast forward to Bombay, as it was then called. Udvadias opted for various vocations. One family soon became full of doctors, in almost every field. This is the story of one of them and his battle with bureaucracy.
 
Tuberculosis (TB) is a deadly disease. It saps the very vitals of the patient slowly. No drug in India could combat it till the 1960s. Then, an antibiotic, Rifampicin, was discovered. Soon, everyone would say, ‘TB is curable’. The dreaded disease had been contained. Then, the turn of the century brought up a new problem. Viruses and bacteria do not like to die. Like humans, they resist death. They mutate. TB germs fought back and became drug resistant. Rifampicin and other medicines no longer worked.
 
A girl from Bihar was diagnosed with TB in 2012. Normal drugs seemed to work at first. Then, she started to lose weight and the slide downhill was blamed on drug-resistant TB. Medicines failed. A glimmer of hope lay in a new wonder drug called Bedaquiline.
 
By now, it was May 2014. She was moved to The Lala Ram Swarup TB Hospital in Delhi. Bedaquiline would help. But it was not administered to the girl. She was not even told that it existed. By October 2016, she weighed only 25kg. That is when she was brought to Mumbai and to Dr Zarir Udvadia. He recommended Bedaquiline. After all, he was the first to publish a study on the drug in 2012.
 
Unfortunately, he could not administer it as its use had been restricted by the Union government under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme. Good intentions gone wrong. The drug could only be given in select cities, Delhi being one. But not to this dying girl. Why? Because she was not from Delhi!
 
Dr Udvadia tried every avenue. He failed. Not one to give up, he, and the girl’s father, sought the court of last resort: a law court. The father petitioned the Delhi High Court; his daughter was withering away.
 
You be the judge. Should the judge uphold the  government’s rule or try to save the child? Blessed are the courageous souls that grace our courts. He ordered the administering of Bedaquiline. A law court had come to the rescue of a sick girl.              
 
“My daughter would still be struggling in the absence of any treatment, if Dr Udwadia had not helped us. He was hand-holding us at every step. I and my entire family is indebted to him,” said the relieved father. Dr Udvadia has this to say: “Thousands more in this country need access to it (Bedaquiline) urgently.” He says that he currently has 30 patients on Bedaquiline and the success rate is 70%. “Many more patients under my care need this miracle drug; but access to it remains difficult. I have gone through a lot of difficulties to get Bedaquiline.”
 
One may not find fault with the authorities for the restrictions. Wonder drugs are powerful; they also have side-effects, sometimes fatal. But a ‘one-size-fits-all’ bureaucratic attitude may be self-defeating. Does every patient have to seek legal redress? The question then is: Where does one draw the line? In the case of TB, its recent resurgence has raised much apprehension. Even a single day’s neglect in taking the pill can lead to resistance. So strict has the enforcement to be that health workers make daily rounds to ensure compliance. A full course takes 18 months. TB can spread like wildfire and some estimates conclude that 90% of the population may be carrying TB germs. Only, they have not manifested themselves. As yet.
 
As a TB patient from 1996 to 1997, this author knows only too well the ravages it causes to the body. Unfortunately, there is no preventive vaccination for drug-resistant TB. One can only hope that, like smallpox, TB too is eradicated. And not burden our over-burdened courts.

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COMMENTS

Silloo Marker

1 week ago

Thank God for doctors who find time for being truly good doctors. Dr. Udwadia is one of many who may be unknown but there are unfortunately more doctors in 5-star hospitals who do whatever is required to make those expensive establishments work, even at the cost of ordering unnecessary interventions and drugs for their patients. It is a sorry state of affairs in our country where more accessible hospitals are required urgently and with more humane doctors.

CCI imposes penalty on Hyundai for anti-competitive conduct
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has found automobile major Hyundai Motor India Ltd. (HMIL) guilty of anti-competitive conduct and imposed a penalty of Rs 87 crore on the company.
 
According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, the CCI found HMIL to be in contravention of the provisions of Competition Act, 2002 for imposing arrangements upon its dealers which resulted into "resale price maintenance in sale of passenger cars manufactured by it". 
 
"Such arrangements also included monitoring of the maximum permissible discount levels through a discount control mechanism," the ministry said in a statement. 
 
"Further, HMIL was found to have contravened the provisions... for mandating its dealers to use recommended lubricants, oils and penalising them for use of non-recommended lubricants and oils."
 
Apart from issuing a cease and desist order against HMIL, CCI imposed a penalty of Rs 87 crore upon the company for the anti-competitive conduct. 
 
"The penalty has been levied at the rate of 0.3 per cent of the average relevant turnover of HMIL of preceding three years," the statement said. 
 
"CCI noted in its order that for the purposes of determining the relevant turnover for the impugned infringement, revenue from sale of motor vehicles alone have been taken into account."
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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Daily pan-India fuel pricing from Friday, dealers won't strike
The hurdles have been cleared for India to switch over from Friday to the daily pricing mode for transport fuels in line with global rates as petroleum dealers have withdrawn their call for closure of vends on June 16. The government agreed to their demand that the price announcement would be daily made at 6 a.m. instead of midnight.
 
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters here on Wednesday that the dealers were agreeable to the new timing and the countrywide daily revision of petrol and diesel prices from June 16 as decided.
 
At present, the state-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) review and revise retail fuel prices every fortnight on the basis of global crude oil prices, while the revision takes effect from midnight. Dealers had represented for a change in timing as under the new regime they would have to deploy manpower everyday to change rates at mid-night.
 
"There were some practical difficulties which we have addressed in our meeting with leadership of all the three petroleum dealers association today (Wednesday). Daily prices will change from 6 a.m.," Pradhan said.
 
Federation of All India Petroleum Traders (FAIPT) President Ashok Badhwar said they were withdrawing their call for the protest closure of vends on Friday because the government had taken the decision of daily price revision in public interest.
 
"And in public interest, we are also withdrawing 'No Sale No Purchase' agitation planned for June 16," he said.
 
Daily revision of retail selling prices (RSP) has already been implemented on a pilot basis in Udaipur, Jamshedpur, Visakhapatnam, Chandigarh and Puducherry from May 1.
 
After the success of the five cities pilot, Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation have now decided to implement it across the country.
 
"This move will ensure that the benefit of even the smallest change in international oil prices can be passed down the line to the dealers and the end-users," Indian Oil said in a statement here. 
 
The FAIPT had earlier voiced concern about the impact of dynamic pricing on dealers' margins.
 
"Dealers of five cities where it was launched have already burnt their fingers. They are crying at the inventory loss that they have already suffered due to the fluctuations in the daily changing prices," FAIPT said in a statement.
 
On Tuesday, IOC sought to reassure dealers on their concerns about inventory loss due to the daily revision of fuel prices, even as the Delhi Petrol Dealers Association said it will join the protest closure of pumps on Friday.
 
"The fear of dealers about inventory loss is unwarranted as the change of prices will happen both upwards as well as downwards, and thus both gain and loss would compensate each other," IOC said in a release here.
 
All 26,000-plus, Indian Oil dealers will be given timely information on the effective prices for the day.
 
"At a large number of Indian Oil's 10,000 automated fuel stations, daily price can be automatically updated centrally. Besides, technology also provides for scheduling the price change at midnight," it said. 
 
The Delhi Petrol Dealers Association said on Tuesday that the automation system installed by oil companies at most of the pumps in the capital are "not supporting the automatic price change in the dispensing machine".
 
"Unless the price is pushed automatically through the automation system, the petrol dealers are not ready to do it manually or fetch the price on a daily basis as being advised by the oil marketing companies."
 
"This manual intervention can lead to errors and delays in operation of the petrol pump," it said.
 
India has opted for dynamic pricing, which is practised in many developed countries, owing to the recent volatility in global crude oil prices.
 
Though oil prices had earlier fallen by more than 50 per cent in less than two years, from levels of over $120 a barrel, output cuts implemented by OPEC and non-OPEC producers this year have brought volatility in crude prices. These continued on their downward spiral following the OPEC cartel's decision last month to extend output cuts. 
 
The Indian basket of crude oils closed below the psychologically important $50-a-barrel mark last week as geopolitical tensions in the Middle East raised market concerns.
 
According to official data, the Indian basket, comprising 73 per cent sour-grade Dubai and Oman crudes and the balance in sweet-grade Brent, closed trade on Tuesday at $47.23 for a barrel of 159 litres.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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