Specialists and Covid-19 trackers warn there could be a sharp increase in fatalities due to non-availability of Liposomal Amphotericin B, the anti-fungal drug which is used to treat black fungus infection.
Since supply of the drug is meagre, private hospitals are handing out prescriptions to patients’ family members and telling them to source the drug on their own.
While private hospitals buy the drug from the state drug controllers’ office, government hospitals get their supply from the Karnataka State Drugs Logistics and Warehousing Society. Generally, a patient is administered 5mg per kilogram of body weight of the drug.
“Where do we get Liposomal Amphotericin B when it is unavailable with chemists?” wonder patients’ kin. However, private hospitals suggest they get it from government hospitals, but that is easier said than done.
Government hospitals say they too are struggling with limited supply. “There were instances of patients coming to government hospitals seeking a bed when they had got a bed in private hospitals,” said Dr Sujata Rathod, director, Minto Ophthalmic Institute. “It’s untrue that state-run hospitals get a better supply of the drug. We are facing shortages too. We are treating 54 patients, but we have got only 100 doses. Each patient requires five doses a day.”
Another doctor said insufficient supply will lead to mortality in severe cases. Each patient needs at least two weeks of hospital care.
And while private hospitals ask kin of patients to procure the drug on their own, they also say the quality of privately sourced drugs is questionable and that they cannot be held responsible if the drug turns out to be useless or spurious.
Dr Gaurav Madikeri, ENT surgeon and programme director of the skull base unit at HCG Group of Hospital, told TOI he was not confident about the authenticity of the drug when it is procured by patients’ families. “We take it in writing that if there are any complications in the patient after administering the drug, we cannot be held responsible because it is not a pure drug,” said Dr Madikeri.
Dr Deepak Haldipur, ENT surgeon, Trustwell Hospitals, said the government is supplying the drug in a trickle when bucketloads of it are needed. “I won’t blame the government as there is a shortage everywhere,” he said.
Dr BT Khanapure, state drug controller, said supply is based on indents raised by hospitals daily. “There is a huge shortage of the drug,” he said. “If all the hospitals ask for 100-150 doses each, it isn’t easy to meet that demand.” However, he refused to share the exact number of doses currently available with his office.