Mucormycosis: HC quizzes Delhi govt, Centre on medicine stock

A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh asked the government to provide them the details of the drug stock; how much is required and how it is being distributed currently to hospitals.
The court also sought to know the rationale of the Delhi government in putting out a circular by which it had constituted a technical expert committee (TEC) to vet hospital requests for the drug.(Mint file photo)
The court also sought to know the rationale of the Delhi government in putting out a circular by which it had constituted a technical expert committee (TEC) to vet hospital requests for the drug.(Mint file photo)
Updated on May 20, 2021 03:58 AM IST
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ByRicha Banka, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Delhi high court on Wednesday sought to know from the Delhi government what steps it had taken to resolve the shortage of amphotericin- B, an antifungal drug used in the treatment of Mucormycosis, or black fungus, is a life-threatening disease that is affecting recovered Covid-19 patients.

A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh asked the government to provide them the details of the drug stock; how much is required and how it is being distributed currently to hospitals. The court also sought to know the rationale of the Delhi government in putting out a circular by which it had constituted a technical expert committee (TEC) to vet hospital requests for the drug.

In its circular, the city government has said all Covid hospitals requiring amphotericin-B will have to apply to the experts committee, which will meet twice a day to scrutinise applications and facilitate rapid decision-making.

“What is the rationale? What is the stock? What are your supplies and how are you distributing it? Why suddenly it (amphotericin- B) is in shortage if it is locally manufactured? You have to point out the bottleneck. This time we will not be caught unawares. This cannot be a case of artificial shortage,” the bench said while also seeking the Centre’s stand on the issue.

The discussion ensued after petitioner lawyer Rakesh Malhotra told the court that there is a shortage of amphotericin- B, the antifungal drug used in the treatment of black fungus. He said even last year, there were Covid-19 recovered patients who had developed black fungus. However, the authorities still had not taken enough steps to augment the production of the medicine.

He also submitted that hospitals have to presently go through a lengthy process to acquire the medicine, after sending requisition and completion of necessary formalities.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra said the demand of this drug has shot up in the past four days and the situation is even worse than that of remdesivir, not just in Delhi but in the entire country. A shortage of antiviral drug remdesivir had led to widespread hoarding and black marketing of the drug -- each vial with an MRP of 900-3000 was being sold for as high as 40,000, especially during the month of April and the first half of May, when Covid-19 cases were at an all-time high across the country.

Mehra said that even though the amicus curiae has suggested a buffer stock should be created for hospitals, the same could not be done because they do not have any stock.

He said the requirement for one patient is 90 vials of amphotericin- B and they have sent necessary requisitions to the Centre which has taken over the supply of the drug. He submitted that the Centre’s counsel can also take instructions on the issue and the matter can be considered on Thursday.

“Let the Union (govt) come tomorrow. They have taken over the supply. We are getting it in a rationed way. We have made requisitions which we will place before this court. We have written to the Centre that 90 vials are required for a patient,” Mehra said disputing the stand of the petitioner who said that the city government has 1,000 vials.

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    Reports from the Delhi High Court and stories on legal developments in the city. Avid mountain lover, cooking and playing with birds 🐦 when not at work

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