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Patients in home isolation struggle to get antiviral drugs

Covid-19 patients in home isolation are struggling to get antiviral drugs over the last 10 days, with many taking to social media and some even paying procuring stocks from those black marketing them
By Leena Dhankhar, Gurugram
PUBLISHED ON APR 26, 2021 11:46 PM IST

Covid-19 patients in home isolation are struggling to get antiviral drugs over the last 10 days, with many taking to social media and some even paying procuring stocks from those black marketing them.

Officials said that the shortage of drugs to treat Covid-19 patients, including remdesivir, is mainly due to panic buying. “People have stored the medicines thinking there is a lack of supply, whereas the manufacturers have been asked to double their production and the consignments are expected midweek. While people are stocking up these medicines expecting a shortage, those who are in dire need are not getting them, due to which several Covid patients in home isolation are suffering, with many developing serious complications,” Amandeep Chauhan, district drugs controller, said.

According to the data available with the health department, 26,137 Covid-19 patients are in home isolation in the district, most of who consult doctors on video calls.

Chemists familiar with the situation said that only favipiravir, an antiviral, and tocilizumab, an immunosuppressant, besides multivitamins, are available at a few stores.

Prince Philkana, a resident of Palm Drive, who has been in isolation for the last two days said he has been trying to arrange medicines for his ailing mother and himself, but to no avail. “People are messaging me to pay more than the market price, but it is only available in Delhi and other states. Chemists in Gurugram said they have not received the stock for the last 10 days,” he said.

Another resident, Vatsala Arora, said she was trying to buy antiviral medicines for her husband who tested positive, but has not been able to do so. “People are black marketing these medicines and there is no support from the local administration. The government should cap the charges and these should be available for the residents. We are struggling every day, while the mafias are getting data of home isolation patients and contacting them for the supply,” he said.

In a few instances, hospital staffers were also stealing the drugs to make a quick buck, as reported by HT over the past few days.

Doctors said that many private hospitals recommended remdesivir to patients in home isolation, but due to the non-availability of the same, they are in a panic. “Lots of patients are also consulting doctors of their home town who have been prescribing these medicines even at a stage where it is not required,” said a senior doctor at a government hospital.

Meanwhile, chemists said they have run out of antiviral medicines, with many stopping home deliveries due to rising demand and increasing pressure.

Jatin Chachra, a chemist in Jacobpura, said that there is high demand for remdesivir, tocilizumab, Medrol tablets, zinc tablets, Mucinac and Tazact over the last 10 days. “People are ready to pay ten times the cost, but there is no supply in the market. There are a few available medicines, but people pick them as soon as the supply hits the market,” he said, adding that a few people were found stocking up to sell at higher prices.

A chemist in Basai Road, Vineet Madan, said that the situation is getting difficult to manage with every passing day. “People threaten us to give medicines thinking we are stocking them. Families beg us and cry, pleading with us to give them a few doses, but it is unfortunate that despite regular follow-ups with the stockists, we are unable to fulfil the needs of customers who are in dire need,” he said.

Chauhan, on the other hand, said that strict action will be taken against those found black-marketing the medicines. “We will take action against persons hoarding these medicines without need, if we receive complaints against them,” said Chauhan.

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