On May 11, Sanjaay Seeranganās mother was diagnosed with mucormycosis or black fungus. She was admitted to the Royal Care Hospital in Coimbatore where the medicines to treat the disease ran out after the first two days. Later, as the hospital authorities expressed helplessness in procuring the medicines under the current guidelines of the Tamil Nadu Government, Sanjaay had to get the medicines from the neighbouring state of Karnataka. But he says 11 other patients in the same hospital who are suffering from mucormycosis have not been so lucky and are still waiting for the antifungal medicines.
Sanjaay says that his friendās father has been in the ICU for the last nine days waiting for liposomal amphotericin b vials. āIāve been seeing doctors break down because they are unable to treat patients due to the drug shortage. Just the cost of treatment is very expensive for a common man to afford. The government has to step up and make some decisions in this aspect,ā Sanjaay tells TNM.
He had to pay around Rs 5000-8000 for each vial of Liposomal Amphotericin B injection. While the cost of just the medicines for his mother has crossed Rs 5-8 lakh, the cost of the entire treatment has exceeded Rs 10 lakh, he says. But the bigger problem is the non-availability of the medicine in Tamil Nadu.
The Tamil Nadu government has passed an order that only hospitals can place orders to procure drugs like Remdesivir, Liposomal and Amphotericin B. This can be done by registering on a portal run by the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation, where hospitals with due identification can order the drugs. The order said that family members of the patient cannot directly buy the drug. This move was ostensibly to curb hoarding of essential medicines and to also ensure families of patients do not crowd retail outlets, possibly creating a COVID-19 cluster. But the portal is still functional only for remdesivir, causing a shortage of other drugs.
Sanjaay has written to several authorities regarding starting the portal for other drugs at the earliest. His letter to the Tamil Nadu Drugs Control Department has yielded no response nor have his tweets tagging the Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin and PM Modi.