Amid Covid Spike, Kashmir Hospitals Running Short of Key Drugs

Doctors working in COVID-19 designated facilities maintain that these drugs have been found to be effective in many cases.

AT a time when Kashmir is reporting a record number of Covid cases, the valley hospitals are running short of key drugs like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab injections.

Doctors say Remdesivir is primarily meant for moderately-ill covid patients, while Tocilizumab is given to severely-ill patients.

Major Kashmir hospitals including SMHS, SKIMS, CD Hospital, JVC and JLNM are already decrying the dearth of the critical drugs.

“Everybody knows Remdesivir injection is out of stock in SMHS,” Dr Nazir Chaudhary, Medical Superintendent SMHS, told Kashmir Observer. “The hospital administration can’t help it.”

Dr. Chaudhary added that they get the supplies from Government Medical College (GMC), which in-turn gets it from Medical Supply Corporation (MSC).

The shortage of the drugs has already escalated problems for patients and their attendants.

Mushtaq Ahmad, whose son has been admitted in SKIMS, Soura told Kashmir Observer that the doctors prescribed the Remedesivir injection to the patient.

“But it’s neither available in the hospital, nor in market,” Mushtaq said.

One injection of Remedesivir cost Rs 1478, and according to doctors, a patient needs at least six doses worth Rs 8868.

“Most of the patients arrange these doses from outside, at very high cost,” a doctor posted in SKIMS told Kashmir Observer.

SKIMS Medical Superintendent Dr. Farooq Jan maintained that the drug is out of stock “throughout India”.

“While we don’t procure Tocilizumab due to least requirement, Remedsivir was available earlier. But now, it is out of stock as the requirement increased manifold lately,” Dr. Jan told Kashmir Observer.

When asked if it is not available, why do doctors in the hospital prescribe to patients, Dr Jan said, “It’s not needed much, but still doctors prescribe it randomly. I will ask them not to prescribe it.”

However, doctors working in COVID-19 designated facilities maintain that both Remdesivir and Toclizumab have been found to be effective in many cases.

“We tried to avoid prescribing Remdesivir and Toclizumab injections but other drugs were not found as effective as these two are,” a doctor on Covid duty said. “We have raised the issue with the concerned authorities.”

Notably, the Drug Controller General of India has designated Remdesivir as an institutional supply only drug in view of the emerging Covid situation and a quota of 10,500 vials per week has been fixed for J&K by GoI, at present, officials said.

However, doctors said that the quota may also be required to get enhanced in view of the emerging “grim situation.”

But the attendants of the patients are finding it hard to manage the drug from market owing to shortage.

Earlier a doctor was quoted as saying that there is already shortage of Tocilizumab and it was surprising that J&K does not figure in the interim allocation list.

“It seems that central government has not been conveyed about the demand of the Tocilizumab by the concerned authorities,” the doctor said and urged the concerned functionaries to express the concerns and ensure adequate supplies amid rising covid-19 cases.

Dr Yashpal Sharma, Managing Director Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL), said that there is shortage of Remdesivir across globally.

He said that the production of Remdesivir was actually closed after Covid-19 cases and but the production has been restarted after the recent spike.

“We have been given two companies namely Mylan and Sun Pharma and have already distributed over 4000 vials of Sun Pharma to hospitals in last few days,” he said.

Meanwhile, Medical Superintendent, Chest Disease Hospital, Dr Saleem Tak, told Kashmir Observer that the key drugs have arrived in GMC, and that they will be distributed to hospitals shortly.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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