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Mucormycosis Cases Rise: States Report Shortage Of Antifungal Drug

New Delhi: With the increase in cases of mucormycosis, the demand for antifungal drug ‘Amphotericin B’ has spiked in recent weeks. States have pressed the panic button.

In Maharashtra, 52 people have died due to mucormycosis since the COVID-19 outbreak last year. All of them were survivors but succumbed to the black fungus infection, India Today reported.

In Pune, 270 cases of mucormycosis have been reported, while in the neighbouring state of Gujarat, as many as 40 people, including eight in Surat, have lost their vision. The Gujarat government will procure the drugs privately from a few manufacturers to meet the demands of government hospitals, where special wards have been set up to treat black fungus patients.

In Uttar Pradesh, the rise in demand for Liposomal Amphotericin B injections amid more people contracting mucormycosis has resulted in an acute shortage of the key drug used in the treatment of the rare infection.

Talking to India Today, Lucknow Chemist Association spokesperson Mayank Rastogi said, “In the previous week, this injection was easily available in most of the prominent drug stores in Uttar Pradesh. However, it is now unavailable in almost all stores.”

The Uttar Pradesh government has set up a 12-member team to monitor and deal with the challenge posed by the black fungus. The team comprises experts from Sanjay Gandhi Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow. The team will be responsible for forming rapid response teams (RRTs), making treatment protocols, ensuring the availability of medicines and a database of cases, sensitisation of healthcare workers for early diagnosis and management of cases as per the ICMR guidelines, the report added.

Bengaluru has seen nearly 75 cases of black fungus in various hospitals in the last two weeks. Karnataka has recorded 97 cases of black fungal infection so far.

Sajjan Raj Mehta, a trader and activist, told India Today that nearly 20 patients were in desperate need of the critical anti-fungal drug at the two healthcare facilities run by the Jain International Trade Organisation in the city.

The Karnataka government has started a dedicated treatment facility at Bowring Hospital in Bengaluru on a pilot basis from May 17 and also identified regional centres to treat black fungus patients.

Declaring black fungus as a notified disease, the state health department has directed all hospitals to mandatorily report cases. In addition, the Karnataka government has also asked the Centre to supply 25,000 doses of Amphotericin B.

Meanwhile, the government is engaging with the drug manufacturers to ramp up the production of Amphotericin B, the Chemicals and Fertilizers Ministry said recently.

The supply position is expected to improve with extra imports of this drug and an increase in its production domestically, it added.

“After reviewing the stock position with the manufacturers/importers, and the demand pattern of Amphotericin B, the Department of Pharma has on 11th May 2021, allocated this drug amongst the States/UTs based on expected supply that will be available from May 10 to May 31, 2021,” the statement said.

In India, Bharat Serums and Vaccine, Wockhardt, Abbott Healthcare, United Biotech and Cipla are among the manufacturers of the drug, according to data on NPPA’s website.