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West Bengal puts onus of providing ‘newer’ Covid drugs on hospitals

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The state government stepped in on Tuesday and directed all hospitals, including Covid facilities, to arrange for the newer drugs for corona treatment and do not pass this ‘burden’ on to the patient party.

TOI had reported on Monday that remdisivir and tocilizumab, two drugs used to treat Covid-19, are fast disappearing from drug stores with fresh supplies expected next week. Approved by the Centre, remdisivir is an anti-viral drug that prevents the replication of the virus. Tocilizumab is a repurposed drug originally used to treat patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Both drugs can only be administered by doctors based on specific clinical diagnosis.

The advisory issued on Tuesday — titled ‘Advisory on Case Management for Covid-19 Patients’ — mentions the experts from the Protocol Monitoring Team have ‘noted certain anomalies in practice which need urgent rectification’. Among other things, it mentions: “Newer drugs that are described in protocol can be used but it is the institution’s responsibility to arrange for those medicines for patients instead of giving the burden on the patient party”. Many patients’ relatives who are undergoing Covid treatment in nursing homes or private hospitals say they are still clueless about procuring these new drugs.

The state health department indicated they had received complaints that many hospitals and private nursing homes had prescribed the drugs and asked the relatives to procure them. Some relatives even alleged that they had paid Rs 11,000 for a vial that is priced Rs 5,500.

Rajendra Khandelwal, MD of Dhanwantary pharmacy chain, said these drugs are supplied to the Covid hospitals directly as a policy decision by the Centre. “It is not given to the distributors. But many patients are not getting them and we hope the supply will improve by this week.” Sajal Ganguly, secretary of the Bengal Chemists and Druggists Association, said 500 vials had reached the city on Monday and they were sent to the hospitals through super stockists who supply to the hospitals.


Source: Times of India

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