Patna High Court takes cognisance of lack of availability of ART Drugs

Mr. ABC vs Executive Director (Health) cum Project Director, Bihar State AIDS Control Society, Bihar | High Court of Judicature at Patna | Status: Disposed off | Covid-19 Response, Greater involvement of people living with HIV (GIPA), People's Health Rights |

“Ensure that the person in need is not subject to unnecessary harassment by having to physically appear before the authority” 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Hon'ble Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah

On the 1st of July 2020, the High Court of Patna passed an order that PLHIV requiring third line ART could approach Rajendra Medical Research Institute (RMRI), Patna. RMRI would then be responsible for arranging a consultation by the State AIDS Clinical Expert Panel, which could be either through Telemedicine or through ESACEP, as claimed that are made by both National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and Bihar State AIDS Control Society (BSACS) in their counter affidavit, within a period of four working days.

As soon as that is done the line of treatment and medicines, prescribed by the State AIDS Clinical Expert Panel is to be communicated to BSACS by RMRI within the next two working days. Once BSACS is provided the information from RMRI, it is to procure the medicines from Centre of Excellence, Varanasi within a week. The patient is to be then provided with medicine and prescription by RMRI, Patna within 10 days after completing the consultation through Telemedicine or ESACEP at RMRI, Patna. The patient should approach RMRI, Patna at least 15 days before the medicines they are taking are coming to an end. 

Petitions to NACO, BSACS and Centre of Excellence

Due to the National and State Lockdown, persons requiring the Third Line of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) were unable to get ready access to the same. Though the petitioners had sent representation letters to Bihar State AIDS Control Society. They were finally able to get access to the third line of treatment on 8th of May 2020, from Rajendra Memorial Research Institute, Patna (RMRI). Though this would also last them only for the period of one month.

Furthermore, since Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) are susceptible most infections, so much so that even minor infections can turn into life threatening conditions. Therefore it is critical that persons living with HIV/AIDS be provided with ART drugs during the period of lockdown.  When the petitioner raised their concerns about availability about the Third Line of medicines before NACO, BSACS and Centre of Excellence, Varanasi but there was no response from the aforementioned authorities that would be of any assistance to the petitioner. In such an event Advocate Deepak Kumar Singh and Advocate Shashwat, associated with Human Rights Law Network, Patna Unit, drafted a petition on behalf of the petitioner to provide relief and assistance to PLHIV in the Patna High Court.

Prayers to the Court

The court directed that the petitioner be given supply of medicines for at least one more month through RMRI as was done earlier. Though the court has given the time to the NACO and BSACS to file their response till 17th June 2020, they have been asked to consider the following in the replies that would be filed:

i.    ensuring availability of Third-Line ART to all PLHIVs in the State of Bihar;
ii.    providing requisite testing facility for them; and
iii.    making available the necessary drugs in the State of Bihar, preferably, at RMRI, which is a Central Institute and is capable of handling such responsibility.

The response filed also needs to give particular instances of actions that BSCAS and NACO have initiated or proposing to initiate to provide PLHIV with the needed drugs and medicines directly at their doorstep. Furthermore the court has clearly held that the state is not to treat this as an adversarial litigation and as soon as appropriate certification that a person is in requirement of such treatment, NACO and BSACS is to provide them with the required medication.



Attachments

    https://hrln.org/uploads/2020/08-August/06-Thu/0ee528f4-4eee-4cb1-b8ff-0f8ed40a450e%20%281%29-1%20%281%29.pdf
    https://hrln.org/uploads/2020/05-May/29-Fri/HIV-COVID%20PETITION.pdf
    https://hrln.org/uploads/2020/05-May/29-Fri/e683baa1-5b07-4c63-a5e0-ea3cb4af7987.pdf