Amidst the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, the rise in cases of mucormycosis or black fungus has led to sharp increase in demand for Amphotericin B injection, used for treatment of the disease.
Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that mainly affects people who are on medication for other health problems that reduces their ability to fight environmental pathogens.
Experts have attributed the rise in black fungus cases to overuse and inappropriate use of steroids for treating COVID-19 patients. With the rise in black fungus cases, the demand for Amphotericin B shot nearly three-fold during April-May.
While about 42,000 vials of injection were produced in the country in April, the projected demand soared about 224 per cent to 1.36 lakh vials in May. Seeing the sharp rise in demand for injections, the government had stepped in to increase the production.
The Centre has licensed five more manufacturers, including Natco Pharmaceuticals and Alembic Pharmaceuticals, to produce Amphotericin-B. These companies will start producing 1,11,000 vials of Amphotericin-B per month from July 2021.
At present Bharat Serums & Vaccines, BDR Pharmaceuticals, Sun Pharma, Cipla and Life Care Innovations make this drug in India. Mylan Labs also imports the drug. These domestic manufactures are cumulatively trying to produce 1,63,752 vials of Amphotericin-B in May. This will be further ramped up to 2,55,114 vials in the month of June.
Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers DV Sadananda Gowda said that an additional 29,250 vials of Amphotericin-B drug were allocated to states and union territories on Wednesday. Currently, over 11,700 patients are being treated for black fungus across the country.
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