City facing shortage of key drug used in Black Fungus treatment

People posting online pleas for help with finding Liposomal Amphotericin B

Published - May 12, 2021 11:22 pm IST - HYDERABAD

The grim prediction of ENT surgeons about a possible shortage of a specific anti-fungal medicine used in the treatment of Mucormycosis or Black Fungus seems to be unfolding. The fungal infection, if untreated, could affect vision, and have life-threatening consequences.

Although a rare infection, it is increasingly being detected among post-COVID patients, leading to a growing demand for the medicine called Liposomal Amphotericin B. The drug is now in short supply and people are posting SOS pleas on social media platforms requesting help in finding the injection vials.

Senior ENT Consultant at Apollo Hospital, Jubilee Hills, K. Rambabu said that depending on a patient’s condition and other parameters, four to six vials of the medicine is required per day for each patient. “And it has to be given for minimum of 10 days. So, a minimum of 40 vials are required to treat a patient. This is first line of medicine used in the treatment. Improvement is better when the medicine is given in initial stages of Mucormycosis,” Dr Rambabu said.

Other ENT surgeons agreed and said the cost of the medicine alone comes to anywhere between ₹1.2 lakh and ₹2.8 lakh.

The specialist doctors stressed that it is important for people to know symptoms of Mucormycosis to avoid slipping into critical stage, leading to loss or vision, or, worse, death.

National Task Force for COVID-19 and experts in their advisory stated that Mucormycosis has to be suspected in COVID-19 patients, diabetics and immuno-suppressed individuals when they have sinusitis – nasal blockade or congestion, nasal discharge (blackish/bloody) or local pain on the cheek bone.

“One sided facial pain, numbness or swelling blackish discolouration over bridge of nose or palate. Toothache, loosening of teeth, jaw involvement. Blurred or double vision with pain; fever, skin lesion; thrombosis & necrosis (eschar).Chest pain, pleural effusion, haemoptysis, worsening of respiratory symptoms,” it further informed.

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