Doctors flag possible shortage of drugs for Black Fungus treatment

ENT surgeons in the city have flagged a possible shortage of a specific anti-fungal medicine used in treatment of Mucormycosis, which is increasingly being detected among post-COVID patients. A few corporate hospitals are already facing shortage of the injection used in the treatment.

Earlier, the fungal infection was rare. But, currently, it is being detected in comparatively more number of patients, mostly post COVID, leading to a sudden demand for the anti-fungal medicine.

National Task Force for COVID-19 and experts have stated in an advisory that Mucormycosis is a fungal infection that mainly affects people who are on medication for other health problems that reduce their ability to fight environmental pathogens. Sinuses or lungs of such individuals get affected after fungal spores are inhaled from the air.

The doctors have pointed at a link between indiscriminate use of steroids, high sugar levels, and activation of Black Fungi.

Specialist doctors said it is easy to put a check on the fungal infection, also called as Black Fungus, if people are aware of the symptoms, consult ENT specialists on time, and keep blood sugar levels in check.

Cost of vials

An anti-fungal medicine used in the treatment of the fungal infection costs anywhere between ₹3000 and ₹7000 per vial.

Senior ENT Consultant at Apollo Hospitals, K. Rambabu said that depending on a patient’s condition, and considering other parameters, four to six vials would be used per day. “And it has to be given for minimum of 10 days. So, a minimum of 40 vials are required to treat a patient. Its availability has to be constantly monitored so that critical patients get it on time,” Dr Rambabu said.

He and his colleague Madhav said earlier, most Mucormycosis cases were treated primarily in big corporate hospitals after smaller hospitals refer the patients to them. The corporate hospitals used to request the pharma firms for medication, and the latter would then cater to the needs through their pharma supply chain.

“Now with COVID entering the battlefield, this whole system has been disrupted. Every corporate hospital in India is working above its full capacity. Thus, the patients being treated for COVID in smaller hospitals once infected with Mucormycosis are not able to find any beds in the corporate hospitals. The toughest challenge with Mucormycosis is the need for treatment at least within 48 hours [of the symptoms showing],” Apollo’s ENT surgeons said.

Monitor blood sugar

An ENT Surgeon at Aster Prime Hospitals, B. Sushmitha stressed that people should know symptoms of the fungal infection to avoid serious complications.

“Parasthesia (altered sensation), swelling of eyes, numbness in cheeks, dryness of nose and severe headache, which do not come down with medication and nasal discharge with blood traces are some of the symptoms of Mucormycosis. The headache will give one sleepless nights. Checking blood sugar levels regularly and keeping it under control is extremely important. It is easy to put a check on Black Fungus if people monitor their blood sugar levels and do not neglect warning symptoms,” Dr Sushmitha said.


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