E-DRUG: Closure of vaccine units challenge -legal notice to Indian health
from Dr Gopal Dabade,
Dharwad 580 002
Copied as fair use
Notice issued to Anbumani, Centre on closure of vaccine units
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre, Union
Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss and others on a public interest litigation
(PIL) petition challenging the closure of vaccine production facilities in
three public sector undertakings (PSUs), two in Tamil Nadu and one in Himachal
A Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam issued the
notice on the PIL filed by S.P. Shukla, former special secretary of the
government of India and former Member, Planning Commission, and four non-
governmental organisations (NGOs) challenging the closure of vaccine production
facilities at the over 100-year-old Pasteur Institute of India, Coonoor; BCG
Vaccine Laboratory, Chennai, and Central Research Institute, Kasauli, in
Notice to H.P., T.N.
The Bench, after hearing senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, also issued notice to
Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Directors of the three PSUs.
According to the petitioners, the three PSUs were manufacturing several
vaccines, including universal vaccines for Diphtheria Pertussis Tetanus (DPT),
Tetanus Toxid (TT), Diphtheria and Tetanus (DT), measles, polio and Bacillus
Calmette Guerin (BCG), which were distributed to government hospitals. They
alleged that the Health Ministry took the decision to close down the production
for the benefit of private companies selling their vaccines at prices higher
than the ones produced in PSUs.
The petition said suspension of production in three most important vaccine
units in the PSUs undermined a century-old effort of building vaccine
self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Ironically, their closure happened at a
time when the production in the three PSUs was peaking and the vaccine
demand-supply gaps were narrowing and when there had been no complaint at all
on the quality of the vaccines produced. A great disservice had been done to
the nation by halting production in these pioneering research and production
units, it was contended.
Expert panel sought
The petitioners sought a direction to set up a committee of experts to go into
the facts and submit a report to the court and a direction to re-start
production facilities in the three units.