Bombay HC Questions Centre Over Shortage of Mucormycosis Drug in Maharashtra

The Maharashtra Government has informed the Bombay High Court on Thursday that of the 600 patients that died due to black fungus (mucormycosis) until June 10, 82 died in the last 36 hours due to the lack of Amphotericin B injections. 

The High Court noted this disturbing data point, and instructed the Central Government to increase the allocation of this injection to Maharashtra, and even take up imports if the production capacity in India wasn’t adequate enough. 

The division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni was hearing multiple PILs (public interest litigations) regarding the management of coronavirus in Maharashtra. The court then sought information regarding mucormycosis cases in the state as well as the number of injections provided by the Centre. 

This is when State Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni submitted the details regarding mucormycosis deaths in the state. He added that while the death count was at 518 until June 7, it shot up to 600 as 82 people died in a span of 36 hours. 

Representing the Central Government, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said that it had, on average, provided 4,000 vials of the Amphotericin B injections per day to Maharashtra between May 11 and June 9.   

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“The deaths need to be brought down. Eighty two patients have died within 36 hours; this is a disturbing figure and we have to save lives. Of 23,254 mucormycosis cases in India, 25% are in Maharashtra, while allocation of drugs is nearly 20%. This is inadequate and we do not want deaths for want of medicines,” the bench noted after hearing the submissions. 

The court also observed that there were some issues with how the life-saving injections were allocated by the Centre. It noted that while one region which didn’t have a single mucormycosis patient received 500 vials of the injection, Tripura which had one case received no injections. “Allocation has to be dynamic and need-based across India. Find out of these deaths are for want of medicines or otherwise. What is the allocation criteria,” the bench questioned.

Addressing the scarcity of this drug, the court asked, “While foreign countries helped us for oxygen and other supplies, did you approach them with respect of this drug? Find out which countries produce it but have less cases and import from them.”

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