SevenHills Hospital, one of the largest Covid-19 care facilities in the city, has only 15 vials of the wonder drug
Dr Balkrishna Adsul, the dean said, the hospital had never before faced such a shortage. Its 250-bed ICU is fully occupied. Adsul said he was hoping to get 15 vials from the BMC’s central purchase department by Sunday night, but if that doesn’t pan out, he will have to send out an SOS to KEM, Cooper and Sion hospitals.
He said there are enough stocks of tocilizumab, another drug used to treat Covid-19.
The crisis at the hospital couldn’t have come at a worse time. There’s a statewide shortage of remdesivir and the government recently issued fresh usage guidelines which allow even patients affected moderately by Covid-19 to be administered the antiviral drug, prompting fears of further shortfall and black-marketing. So far, the drug was only given to severely ill and critical patients.
But, the circular said, such intervention is best within 10 days of infection and should be limited to five days of usage. Doctors are worried that following these guidelines will do more harm than good, and will encourage hoarding as well as indiscriminate use of the drug.
The state government isn’t overlooking these concerns. On September 22, FDA Minister
Three days after Shingne’s assurance, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said all Covid-19 hospitals will be directed to rationally use the drug.
But healthcare workers have warned that
He said the shortage has primarily been created because of low rate bids by some companies. “Other companies are not able to supply at those rates.” Last month, with more companies getting the approval to manufacture remdesivir, the price had dropped to Rs 2,626 per vial from over Rs 4000 when it was first produced in the country in July.
Jalil Parkar, senior pulmonologist at Lilavati Hospital, said while supply of remdesivir was always rationed for private hospitals, he was surprised that BMC-run facilities, too, are facing a dearth.
A doctor from a state-run Covid-19 hospital said healthcare centres monitored by the government and civic bodies not only have to grapple with the drug shortage but also a fund scarcity.
“Even when there are supplies, we do not have the money to buy them. We had recently suggested that a portion from the chief minister’s relief fund be set aside for the next few months to purchase remdesivir.”