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Pune facing acute shortage of Tocilizumab, Itolizumab, both used for treatment of Covid-19

PUNE Following the shortage of the Remdesivir injection, used in the treatment of Covid-19 patients with moderate symptoms, Pune is now also facing an acute shortage of Tocilizumab and also Itolizumab, both used for treatment of Covid-19
By Steffy Thevar
PUBLISHED ON APR 25, 2021 07:39 PM IST

PUNE Following the shortage of the Remdesivir injection, used in the treatment of Covid-19 patients with moderate symptoms, Pune is now also facing an acute shortage of Tocilizumab and also Itolizumab, both used for treatment of Covid-19.

Often referred to as Toci, Tocilizumab is also used to treat severe cases.

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) expects fresh stock of Tocilizumab and Itolizumab to only be available by April 28.

A senior FDA official said, “There is absolutely no stock available in Pune or, the nearby districts. We are getting calls from everyone including references from the district collector and also the health minister and CM’s office, but since we do not have any stock there is no way we can help them.”

Dinesh Khivasara, drug Inspector, FDA, Pune, said, “Both Tocilizumab and Itolizumab are not available in the district since April 15 and fresh stock is expected to come only by April 27-28. The medical firm had stopped importing the drug as it did not find it useful in treating Covid-19 patients. However, now, since demand has gone up they have started importing it again and hopefully we will get fresh stock soon.”

Patients are now left to fend for themselves and some have had to travel to nearby districts to get the drugs.

In one such case, a patient’s relative in Pune tried to source the medicine while the patient was admitted in Baramati. The relative, requesting anonymity, said, “My distant relative is admitted ad I tried calling FDA officials and also the chemist association, but none of them have the stock and they have told us that the new stock will come only in the next few days. We are trying to source the medicine from Mumbai, or nearby districts, but until we know for sure we cannot risk travelling.”

Two such patients, both from Vishwaraj Hospital located in Dhanori in Pune, and have been prescribed Tocilizumab.

One relative said, “Ideally, the hospital should have the medicine. We are also trying to find the injection from Mumbai and Delhi, but it is not available anywhere.”

The relative of the other Covid patient said, “The patient is 61- years old and the entire family has tested positive, so they are not able to move out. We are in West Bengal now and using social media contacts to get the medicine. We even called our known contacts in Delhi to see if they can get the drug, but it is not available anywhere.”

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