As cases rise, Hyderabad scours for scarce black fungus drug 

Liposomal Amphotericin B is in short supply in the State; hospitals too throw up their hands

Published: 13th May 2021 01:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th May 2021 09:44 AM   |  A+A-

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HYDERABAD: As cases of Covid-19 patients being affected with black fungus rise in Telangana, attendants are running from pillar to post for anti fungal drugs like Liposomal Amphotericin B. These precious drugs has disappeared from the shelves of chemists, even as the lives of the patients are on the line. It is learnt that Gandhi Hospital — the State’s biggest Covid-19 hospital — is forced to buy the antifungal drug from outside as the supply to even government Covid-19 hospitals has not been streamlined yet.

Highly placed sources from the Medical and Health department informed that seven patients affected with black fungus or Mucormycosis were currently admitted in Gandhi Hospital and had been put on Liposomal Amphotericin B. The drugs had been procured from the private market, they said. “At present, the use of steroids is much higher as the disease presentation is severe. Presently, seven cases are being treated in the hospital,” said a highly placed official. 

In some cases, families of patients have themselves been tasked with procuring it from outside, and are struggling to do so. On Wednesday, a family of a black fungus patient admitted at Gandhi Hospital sent out an SOS via twitter seeking the medicine, since it was not available in the hospital. 

The families, in their search for the drug, have hit a roadblock as pharmacies and dealers don’t have it. “These drugs are not manufactured in Telangana. Majority of the supply comes from firms in Himachal and Maharashtra. Until now, only super specialty hospitals used to place indents for the drug. Even other drugs like Azithromycine, Vitamin C and Zinc are in short supply,” said P Chilukuri, President of Chemists Association.

The Association says the reason for the short supply is that this disease was very rare until the pandemic began. It is now seen specifically in diabetic Covid-19 patients whose immunity is lowered due to the high doses of steroids used during treatment. Patients get infected due to the lower immunity, and it starts affecting their muscles if treatment is not started.

Disease needs aggressive mgmt: Doc

“Cases of black fungus are being reported to us as early as 8-10 days after detection of Covid-19 in a few cases, and also as late as about 60 days after Covid-19 detection, the most crucial period being 2-6 weeks after detection. This disease requires aggressive management, including extensive surgical debridement of the involved tissue along with administration of intravenous antifungals followed by oral antifungals for a period of at least six weeks to three months,” said Dr Monalisa Sahu, Consultant, Infectious Diseases, Yashoda Hospitals.

Meanwhile, doctors, volunteers and families of those affected want urgent steps to be taken to make the drug available, before the situation worsens. “In the last 24 hours, I have received 25 requests for this specific drug on Instagram and Twitter. As part of the Covid-19 SOS team for Hyderabad, I am in touch with the dealers, who said that they are arranging for stocks. But more has to be done,” said Abhishek Murarka, an IT professional.


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