Covid-19 medicines running out in Patna following oxygen crisis

Surging Covid-19 cases in Bihar in the second Covid wave have led to a shortage of medicines required to treat even mild and moderate cases of infections.
Patna residents purchasing medicines in keep distance at a medical shop at Raza Bazar in Patna.
Patna residents purchasing medicines in keep distance at a medical shop at Raza Bazar in Patna.
Published on May 09, 2021 11:40 AM IST
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After the shortage of oxygen and oxygenated beds in hospitals, Patna is now battling a scarcity of common medicines required for treatment of mild and moderate cases of Covid-19.

While the demand for Paracetamol, Azythromycin, Doxycycline and Ivermectin was considerably high since the beginning of the rapid surge in Covid-19 cases in early April, these were now missing from inventories of many drug retailers for the past one week. Most pharmacists across the capital said they were struggling to meet their daily requirements even when paying whole-sellers or warehouses in advance.

Akhilesh Kumar runs a medical store near Phulwari Sharif railway station, said not enough medicines were available for Covid-19 patients in home isolation. “We are getting barely half of [our total] demand from whole sellers at Govind Mitra Road. The stock generally runs out in the afternoon,” he said.

An Apollo Pharma retailer located on Ashiyana Road said the situation of supply from Kolkata-based warehouses was no better. “Doxycycline tablets are unavailable for the past two days, while Ivermectin is running out,” said Shankar Kumar, adding he hoped to get some emergency medicines from the local wholesaler the next day.

Ramjeet Kushwaha, who owns a medical store near Jagdeo Path, said the supply of Azithromycin and Ivermectin was disrupted for the past one week. “I have never faced a scarcity of basic medicines like this. Even Paracetamol tablets are going off the shelf quite fast...,” he said.

Bharati Kumari, a homemaker from Rukanpura, said she had to visit at least five-six drug stores daily to arrange for medicines for her husband who is under treatment in home isolation. “Unlike other medical necessities like oxygen or Remdesivir injections, which are selling at exorbitant prices, medicines are available on maximum retail price (MRP),” she said.

the positivity rate has gone up past 15% in the state while recovery has plummeted to 78-79%, increasing the mortality rate.

Raids were being conducted across Bihar to stop the black marketing of oxygen cylinders and life saving drugs by unscrupulous traders and middlemen. In another move to check profiteering during the pandemic, the Bihar government on Saturday capped the price for High-Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) Scan conducted by private laboratories in the state. HRCT tests assess the extent of viral infection in lungs and damage to tissues to decide the further line of treatment. For single-slice CT machines, the private laboratories can charge 2,500 while they can charge 3,000 for multi-slice CT machines.

The state government had earlier fixed the rates of both AC and non-AC ambulances on complaints of overcharging for the service. As per official data, there are 115,067 active Covid-19 cases in Bihar while the cumulative cases stand at 4,49,063.


    Subhash Pathak is special correspondent of Hindustan Times with over 15 years of experience in journalism, covering issues related to governance, legislature, police, Maoism, urban and road infrastructure of Bihar and Jharkhand.

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Thursday, January 27, 2022