Desperate to save their relatives’ lives, over 500 people line up at a Ghatkopar distributor selling Tocilizumab injections.
The crippling shortage of vital drugs to fight Covid-19 was witnessed not just in hospitals but also on the streets last night, when a crowd of more than 500 people queued up outside a store in Ghatkopar to buy Tocilizumab, which is used alongside Remdesivir to treat moderate to critical patients.
The crowds began queueing up in front of SK Pharmaceutical from yesterday afternoon after learning that the store had about 400 vials of Tocilizumab, also known as Atlizumab, which costs around Rs 40,000 a vial. Such is the shortage of the drug that it is selling for up to Rs 75,000 in black market.
One of those who queued up, Bhaskar Patil, said he needed the drug for his 39-year-old sister-in-law. “I queued up around 2 pm, and got the medicine at 10 pm. I travelled to Ghatkopar all the way from Kalyan,” he said. Another person, who did not want his name in print, said he had arrived in Mumbai from Surat, looking for Tocilizumab. Yet another man was from Malegaon.
The crowds outside SK Pharmaceuticals in Ghatkopar. A single vial of Tocilizumab costs Rs 40,000 (Photo by Raju Shinde)
Mumbai Mirror reported on Thursday that Remdesivir was selling at ten times its market price in black market. Tocilizumab, manufactured by Cipla, has been elusive for at least two months now, top doctors confirmed. Senior pulmonologist Dr Jaleel Parkar from Lilavati Hospital said he himself couldn’t procure Tocilizumab when he contracted Covid.
As per the standard medical protocol, Covid patients need at least two vials of Tocilizumab, but such is its shortage that those who had queued up outside the Ghatkopar store yesterday were handed only one vial. Dr Parkar said that in a 100-bed hospital, there will be at least 30 patients who will need Tocilizumab. Dr Prince Surana, CEO of Surana Group of Hospitals, said 15 of his patients urgently need Tocilizumab. “One of the patient’s relatives went to Ghatkopar to buy the drug. His token number was 300. Imagine the hardship patients and their kin have to suffer,” he said.
Covid patients need at least two vials of Tocilizumab
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