Remdesivir disappears from Kashmir hospitals

As India sees sharp rise in COVID19 cases, Remdesivir, like oxygen supply, has become a scarce commodity.
Representational Image
Representational Image

On Friday, a renowned doctor from Kashmir issued an appeal for help to get Remdesivir injection for his brother admitted with severe symptoms of COVID19 at Chest Diseases Hospital Srinagar. Being known helped his case and after a day of panic, he could manage the drug that is widely being prescribed for treatment of SARS-CoV2 induced complications.

A week earlier, a well known politician admitted at SKIMS Soura was prescribed Toclizumab for his severe condition following his positive test of COVID19. The family of the veteran leader could not find the drug anywhere in Kashmir. Being connected gave them the leverage to procure the medicine from Delhi.

However, for an orchard farmer from Anantnag, currently admitted at SKIMS Soura, a few visits by his family to the Institute's drug counter and the numerous pharmacies outside the hospital for getting medicines that the doctor had prescribed proved futile. His oxygen saturation sometimes drops below 70 percent. Currently on nasal oxygen, his family, when they asked about his condition, got no answer from the doctor on duty. A day earlier, they had been rebuked for their inability to get the "injections".

As India sees sharp rise in COVID19 cases, Remdesivir, like oxygen supply, has become a scarce commodity. Likewise in J&K where the number of covid cases has seen exponential rise with hospital admissions going up five-fold in less than a month, the drug supply has suddenly become a crisis for hundreds of patients.

Many doctors working in COVID19 designated facilities have raised the issue with the respective hospital administrations. "On some patients, we have tried many drugs, but without much use. We have seen Remdesivir and Toclizumab help in a few cases here but we can't prescribe it now because we are left with a few vials here," a doctor working in a Srinagar hospital said. He said it was difficult for patients to manage the drug from market owing to its exorbitant cost, apart from its shortage.

In J&K, hospitals get their supplies through J&K Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL). Managing Director of the Corporation Dr Yashpal Sharma said that Remdesivir shortage was throughout the country.

He said that 800 vials were supplied to Kashmir division on Saturday, which he said, would be consumed in three days. "On Monday, we hope to arrange some more vials for Kashmir division. It is a daily struggle now," he said.

In Jammu division, Dr Sharma said that only 100 vials of Remdesivir were available and the corporation was getting in touch with all the five enlisted companies manufacturing the drug. "May be we will get 300 vials for Jammu today," he said.

The demand of Remdesivir across country, Dr Sharma said, has affected its supplies to the corporation. "If we place an order for 5000 vials, we get 500," he said.

Regarding Toclizumab, Dr Sharma said, no orders had been received from any hospital in J&K. "It is not part of hospital supply yet and some doctors may be prescribing it knowing that the patient will need to get from outside only," he said.

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