High demand leads to shortage of key drug to treat Black Fungus

An exponential growth in demand for Liposomal Amphotericin B amid more people contracting Mucormycosis has resulted in an acute shortage of the key, expensive drug used in the treatment of the rare fungal infection.

It was business as usual until even a fortnight ago for those dealing in the drug. “Suddenly, the quantities [sought] have doubled and the companies producing the drug say there is no stock,” said managing director of Medihauxe Pharma P. Girish Bhat.

“Since yesterday, more than 150 patients with Mucormycosis or Black Fungus as it is also known are in touch with us in Hyderabad alone for the drug,” he said on Thursday, even while pointing that the quantities supplied by the producers in recent days are insufficient for even one patient.

Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that mainly affects people who are on medication for other health problems that reduce their ability to fight environmental pathogens, according to an advisory prepared by experts and National Task Force for COVID-19.

The demand for Liposomal Amphotericin B has been soaring in the face of many treated for COVID-19 also getting this infection. Mr. Bhat said the selling price of the injection is ₹6,500 (50 mg vial), across brands, with the number of doses per day ranging from 4-6 depending on the weight of the patient. The treatment regimen lasts 21 days for some.

One of the largest distributors for life saving medicines in the region, his firm is a major distributor of the product manufactured by Mylan Laboratories, he said. Besides Mylan, some of the other companies making Liposomal Amphotericin B are Abbot India, Bharat Serum and Vaccines and Celon Labs. Without discounting the possibility of prices being revised upward by producers, he said it, however, was not easy for any manufacturer to meet such a steep increase in demand.

It is very difficult for them, he said, citing how the demand has gone up from barely 10 patients contracting Black Fungus a month prior to the pandemic to the present 200-250. Two leading private hospitals in the city alone, to whom the firm supplies, want 25,000 vials, he said, adding to how improved allocation of medicines to Telangana could make a difference.

Liposomal Amphotericin B injection, however, is not the only product in demand as other fungus related products, including Posaconazole tablets, have also gone out of stock, he said, citing how for COVID patients Black Fungus is a double blow.

Mylan Labs was yet to respond to a questionnaire at the time of going to print.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 12:52:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/high-demand-leads-to-shortage-of-key-drug-to-treat-black-fungus/article34552746.ece

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