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Rationalise allocation of mucormycosis drug: Bombay HC to Centre

Maharashtra government on Thursday informed the Bombay high court (HC) that of the 600 deaths due to mucormycosis till June 10, 82 patients had died in the past 36 hours due to shortage of the Amphotericin B injection
By KAY Dodhiya, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUN 11, 2021 12:29 AM IST

Maharashtra government on Thursday informed the Bombay high court (HC) that of the 600 deaths due to mucormycosis till June 10, 82 patients had died in the past 36 hours due to shortage of the Amphotericin B injection. Observing that the high number of deaths was disturbing, the court asked the Centre to increase allocation of the injection to Maharashtra and also asked it to import medicines from various countries as in-house production was insufficient.

The court also directed the state to widely publicise the precautions and measures to be taken to prevent children from getting affected by Covid-19 during the projected third wave, through electronic and print media.

The division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni, while hearing various public interest litigations (PIL) alleging improper Covid-19 management in Maharashtra, had asked the state and Centre to inform it about the number of mucormycosis cases in the state and the number of vials to treat the fungal infection that were being provided.

Advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni submitted that the number of deaths in the state due to mucormycosis was 518 till June 7, which reached 600 on June 10, with 82 deaths in the past 36 hours.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, for the Centre, said it had allocated an average of 4,000 vials of Amphotericin B injection per day to Maharashtra between May 11 and June 9.

After hearing the submissions, the bench observed, “The deaths need to be brought down. Eighty two patients have died within 36 hours; this is a disturbing figure and we have to save lives. Of 23,254 mucormycosis cases in India, 25% are in Maharashtra, while allocation of drugs is nearly 20%. This is inadequate and we do not want deaths for want of medicines.”

Upon perusing the drug allocation chart submitted by Singh, the court said there was a mismatch in the allocation to the states and while one of the regions that did not have any active mucormycosis cases was allocated 500 vials, Tripura which had one case, no injections were allocated to it. “Allocation has to be dynamic and need-based across India. Find out of these deaths are for want of medicines or otherwise. What is the allocation criteria,” questioned the bench.

Referring to the need to import the drug, the bench said, “While foreign countries helped us for oxygen and other supplies, did you approach them with respect of this drug? Find out which countries produce it but have less cases and import from them.”

With regards to tackling the apprehension that the third wave would affect young children, AG Kumbhakoni informed the bench that a task force to tackle paediatric Covid-19 cases and related ailments had been constituted and district and health officials, along with 65,000 Asha workers were briefed and trained on identifying symptoms in children, precautionary measures, use of oximeters among other steps. He said the state was prepared to address the issue.

The bench then directed that the state use the electronic and print media to publicise and create awareness among mothers and parents of children on how to tackle the symptoms and the infection.

The PIL has been posted for further hearing on Friday.

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