Social media platforms are flooded with requests for Remdesivir, considered an important drug in the treatment of COVID-19 and which is in short supply across the country. However, doctors who have been attending and monitoring thousands of critical COVID-19 patients at Gandhi Hospital have flagged the dangers of irrational use of Remdesivir and other anti-viral drugs.
M. Raja Rao, superintendent of Gandhi Hospital, which has once again been turned into an exclusive COVID Care Centre, said that Remdesivir should be given only in the first week, along with convalescent plasma, to moderate and severe COVID patients.
The senior doctor who has been attending coronavirus cases said that it should not be given to asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients. “Anti-viral drugs are useful when the virus is in blood,” he said at a press conference held at State Health Campus, Koti, on Saturday.
Senior officials of the Health department said that they have received information that patients in home isolation and those with mild symptoms were also being prescribed the medicine. Apart from side-effects, irrational use leads to shortage for critical patients who really need the drug.
In the past few days, friends and families of COVID-positive persons have been requesting for Remdesivir and are even ready to cough up extra money.
Director of Public Health G. Srinivasa Rao said that they held an orientation programme for doctors of private hospitals where guidelines on using Remdesivir were explained. He said that the Drugs Control Administration is streamlining supply of the anti-viral drug as well as oxygen. A list of 1,300 hospitals identified for COVID treatment was sent to DCA officials, who in turn send it to the two companies in the State which manufacture the drug. The injection vials are supplied based on patients’ need.
Currently, it is not being supplied to medical shops or wholesale distributors. So, it cannot be bought over the counter. Supply to hospitals is limited.
Dr Raja Rao spoke about judicious use of Tocilizumab too. A few patients admitted at the government hospitals judged quality of treatment based on whether Remdesivir and other drugs were given to them.
People were informed that the drugs were administered to patients whose medical conditions required the medication, and after their health condition and complications were thoroughly assessed. For instance, Remdesivir is not given to those with liver or kidney problems. Doctors consider multiple factors before prescribing a drug, he added.