Now drug for ‘black fungus’ is in short supply

While Karnataka is witnessing an increasing number of mucormycosis (black fungus) cases as a post-COVID-19 complication, there are complaints that medicines needed to treat the problem are hard to come by.

While Bengaluru has seen close to 75 cases of black fungus over the last fortnight in various hospitals, six have emerged in Mysuru’s government hospital and one suspected case in Belagavi.

The most commonly prescribed medicine for mucormycosis, Liposomal Amphotericin B, is in short supply in Karnataka.

Trader and activist Sajjan Raj Mehta said there were nearly 20 patients in urgent need of the critical antifungal drug at the two healthcare facilities run by Jain International Trade Organisation in the city. “Last week, we procured 50 vials of an alternate antifungal drug from Hyderabad, which has also run out. One of my relatives is suffering from mucormycosis and needs to be administered this drug immediately. Any delay will worsen the situation. The government must immediately ensure this drug is available,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister Dr. C.N. Ashwath Narayan, heading the COVID-19 Task Force, conceded there was a shortage of the drug in Karnataka. “At present, we estimate about 400 cases per week. Based on this, we will write to the Union government to provide 20,000 vials as early as possible,” he said.

In Mysuru, where two confirmed cases of the rare fungal infection had been reported at the State-run K.R. Hospital, doctors said the patients are being treated with Liposomal Amphotericin B, and added that the drug was not commonly available since the infection is rare.

But, if more number of COVID-19 patients or those recovered from the infection contract mucormycosis, it will become tough to help them.

“If the numbers go up, it becomes difficult to meet the demand since we do not have enough stock,” said Mysore Medical College and Research Institute (MMCRI) Dean and Director C.P. Nanjaraj. He told The Hindu that the matter had been brought to the notice of competent authorities.

Sources in the office of the Drug Controller in Bengaluru said Amphotericin ‘plain’ variant (not Liposomal Amphotericin B) was available in the open market. However, when one of the major drug distribution agencies was contacted, the response was: “None of the drugs are in stock.”

A doctor in a private hospital said, “Drugs used in the treatment of rare fungal infections are expensive and are not commonly available. The government hospitals could be using drugs available in their stocks. The manufacture of such life-saving drugs will be ramped up in the light of more cases of mucormycosis.”

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 11:53:33 AM |

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