The High Court (HC) on Monday directed a Supreme Court lawyer to write an application to the principal secretary of the prime minister seeking approval for the manufacture of 'OxyJet', an oxygen supply device for treating Covid-19 patients.
A virtual HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim directed Barrister Aneek R Haque to send a copy of the application to the attorney general as well.
The court said, 'Our Prime Minister is innovative and proactive. Hopefully she will consider it if she hears this good news.'
OxyJet, made by a team of engineers from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), may be a functional alternative to the expensive high-flow nasal cannulas. Bangladesh is facing a shortage and crisis in oygen delivery tools for the rising numbers of Covid-19 patients.
However, the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) is not permitting the commercial production of OxyJet without policy compliance. According to officials, only companies which have a factory can go into commercial production and Buet, an engineering university, is not a company.
Barrister Haque brought the issue to the High Court on Monday.
He said, "OxyJet' has already successfully completed two stages of the clinical trial with the approval of the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC). This device is capable of supplying up to 60 liters of high-flow oxygen in a normal hospital bed. While the cost of a high-flow nasal cannula is Tk2 to 5 lakh, the production cost of OxyJet will be only Tk20,000-25,000, but the DGDA is not allowing commercial production of the device."
"The high-flow nasal cannula crisis has led to an increase in the number of Covid-19 fatalities. If Buet's OxyJet was allowed to be produced commercially, it could meet the oxygen demand for patients across the country. We would not have to buy time-consuming and expensive high-flow nasal cannulas from abroad," Haque told the court.
Lamenting the tendency of officials to unnecessarily buy instruments from abroad, the HC said in response to Haque's arguments, "We are more interested in buying from abroad. However, the question here is whether Buet will be able to produce the device commercially? There are some policy issues regarding production and procurement."
The HC asked the Supreme Court lawyer to write to the attorney general and principal secretary of the prime minister, seeking approval for commercial production of OxyJet.
Bangladesh is fighting a second wave of the deadly coronavirus and a massive oxygen supply shortage in hospitals has recently led to a surge in deaths.
The teachers and students of Buet's Department of Biomedical Engineering who made OxyJet, say this easy to use portable device can serve as an alternative to high-flow nasal cannulas by connecting it to an oxygen cylinder or hospital oxygen line. It also does not need any electricity to operate, an important feature in Bangladesh in the event of power outages.