J&K ignored in allocation of key covid drug Tocilizumab

Tocilizumab [Source: Twitter/Roche]

Amid spike in COVID cases in Jammu and Kashmir, government of India in its recently released interim allocation of key drugs administered on critically ill coronavirus patients has not allocated a single Tocilizumab vial to the UT.

Tocilizumab, an imported drug manufactured by Roche, is prescribed for treatment of some COVID19 patients under certain conditions. The drug went out of stock in the country few weeks ago due to the sudden surge in its demand because of a sharp rise in infection cases.

A senior health department official said that many patients in J&K have been prescribed this infection, but unfortunately there is no supply and it is not even available in the market.

As per the pharmaceutical department of Union Health and Family Welfare, fresh limited stock of this drug has now been imported and is available with the lone marketer company Cipla Ltd for marketing and distribution in the country.

“An interim allocation of this drug among states has been finalized jointly by MOHFW and DoP in consultation with the company. The allocated stock has been placed at the disposal of the states of allocation to government and private hospitals in the state. No separate allocation is being sent to private hospital (sic),” reads the circular issued by the Department of Pharmaceutical (GOI).

However, there is no allocation made to the J&K, which has drawn strong criticism from medicos as well as pharmaceutical distributors.

President, Jammu Pharmaceutical Distributors Association, Rakesh Gupta urged the administration to “take proper feedback from stakeholders concerned before issuing any statement in the media to claim there is no shortage of drugs needed for COVID treatment”.

Earlier there was no allocation of Remdesivir, but later they gave J&K 10500 vials, he said, adding that similarly in today’s allocation list of Tocilizumab, UT has been ignored. “I would like to ask the Union Health Ministry, aren’t we humans in J&K that even in this crisis we are being deprived of key drugs to fight COVID?”

President, Chemists Druggists Association of Kashmir, Fayaz Azad said: “Government must ensure supply of these drugs, as on one hand doctors in hospitals are prescribing them to severely ill COVID patients and on other hand there is no availability. They come to us in the private sector, but we cannot help them as the government has banned its supply in the private sector.”

A senior health official said that the administration will take up the issue of allocation with the Union Health Ministry and ensure that its adequate supply is made available to the UT.