Pune hospitals report shortage of remdesivir, tocilizumab amidst rise in number of critical patients
The Pune division health department has sent a demand to the state government on July 3 for a total of 1,850 vials of injection tocilizumab (400 mg) and 7,100 injections of remdesivir (100 mg) for government hospitals in Pune and hospitals in Satara and Solapur, which are yet to be supplied.Updated: Jul 09, 2020 11:32 IST
Multiple city hospitals are reporting shortage of crucial drugs used for the treatment of critical Covid-19 patients.
Nikhil Kumbhar, a resident of Pune was about to leave for Mumbai to get remdesivir vials for his uncle, undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at a private hospitals. The patient had been admitted to Noble Hospital on June 30 and on July 4, doctors informed the family that there is a shortage of remdesivir.
“Before leaving for Mumbai, I tried to reach out to multiple hospitals in the city, but none of them responded positively. Finally, when I got in touch with a few retailers in Mumbai who had the vials. I got permission for an e-pass from the Pune police, however, fortunately, the hospital got its vials which they had ordered before and resumed the treatment,” said Kumbhar.
Dr HK Sale, executive director of Noble hospital, said, “Despite making a full advance payment to the dealer for about 96 vials of remdesivir, we received only 56 of them. Each patient requires nine doses of the vials which means, I can treat only nine patients. There is surely a shortage of the drugs and the supply is also irrational. Another important drug for Covid-19 treatment, tocilizumab is in shortage.”
As of Tuesday, PMC reported 385 critical patients of the 7,859 active cases in the city. Of the 385 critical patients, 63 are on ventilator while 322 are serious in the ICU with comorbidities and undergoing oxygen treatment. Remdesivir and tocilizumab, are two drugs, used for the treatment of Covid-19 patients who require oxygen supply in the city. Only two companies as of now produce the drug in India, namely, Hyderabad-based Hetero and Cipla.
Dr Ashok Nandapurkar, civil surgeon and nodal officer for Covid-19 in Pune, said, “The approval to use remdesivir for Covid-19 patients came only a few days ago and we are now placing orders for the same, but we are yet to get the supply. There is a delay in the supply and we require it for government hospitals.”
Dr Parikshit Prayag, consultant at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, said, “We are facing a shortage of remdesivir and it has shown some promising results in patients who require oxygen treatment. It shortens the duration of the illness. However, no significant benefit has been found in mechanically-ventilated patients. We have so far used it for 15 patients and it’s too early to comment on its efficacy. But the supply has been inconsistent. Tocilizumab supply has been much better , and now we are also using subcutaneous tocilizumab which requires a smaller dose and has been shown to be comparable to intravenous tocilizumab.”
Nikhil Chopra, executive vice-president and CEO-India Business, Cipla, said, “We are proud to commercially launch CIPREMI on Tuesday; amongst the lowest priced globally, we aim to supply over 80,000 vials within the first month itself. To further ensure equitable distribution, CIPREMI will be available via government and hospital channels only. Cipla will also be donating some amount of the drug as part of its efforts to support the community in this time of need.”
Dr Sunil Rao, group medical director, Sahyadri hospitals, said, “Earlier, we were not getting the dose of remdesivir, but now the supply has somewhat stabilised. In fact, we have been told by chemists and traders that in a few days there will be an overflooding of remdesivir as more pharma companies are racing in to produce the drug. However, now we are facing a shortage of tociluzumab. It has shown some promise in the treatment of patients. It prevents patients from becoming critical moderately ill to critically ill. Each vials costs around Rs 40,000 and we currently have vials remaining for only one or two patients in all our hospitals. We are hoping to get the supply consistently, but the timing of providing the drug for treatment is essential and we cannot afford to lose those precious hours or days.”
One dose of remdesivir costs around Rs 5,400 plus GST, according to doctors.
The Pune division health department has sent a demand to the state government on July 3 for a total of 1,850 vials of injection tocilizumab (400 mg) and 7,100 injections of remdesivir (100 mg) for government hospitals in Pune and hospitals in Satara and Solapur, which are yet to be supplied. Of this stock, 500 vials of injection tocilizumab (400 mg) and 2,000 vials of injections of remdesivir (100 mg) has been reserved for PMC.