Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday said the Centre will make proactive efforts for significantly ramping up domestic production of Amphotericin-B drug, an anti-fungal drug for the treatment of black fungus disease.
“Union Ministry of Health along with Dept of Pharmaceuticals and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is making proactive efforts for significantly ramping up domestic production of Amphotericin-B drug,” it said.
The Government also made effective efforts in supplementing the domestic availability through securing supply from global manufacturers. “There is also a reported shortage of Amphotericin-B, an anti-fungal drug used for the treatment of the black fungus disease,” it said.
The health ministry said, there are 5 existing manufacturers — Bharat Serums & Vaccines Ltd, BDR Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Sun Pharma Ltd, Cipla Ltd and Life Care Innovations of Amphotericin-B — in the country and one importer —Mylan Labs. “The production capacity of these companies was extremely limited in the month of April 2021. As a result of the handholding by the Government of India, these domestic manufactures will cumulatively produce 1,63,752 vials of Amphotericin-B in May 2021. This will be further ramped up to 2,55,114 vials in June 2021,” the ministry said.
In addition, efforts are being made for supplementing the domestic availability of this anti-fungal drug through import. In May 2021, 3,63,000 vials of Amphotericin-B will be imported, thereby resulting in total availability in the country (inclusive of the domestic production) of 5,26752 vials.
It said 3,15,000 vials will be imported in June 2021. Hence, along with the domestic supply, the countrywide availability of Amphotericin-B will be enhanced to 5,70,114 vials in June 2021.
The ministry said 5 more manufacturers have been given the licences to produce the anti-fungal drug within the country. “These are — NATCO Pharmaceuticals, Hyderabad, Alembic Pharmaceuticals, Vadodara, Gufic Biosciences Ltd, Gujarat, Emcure Pharmaceuticals, Pune and Lyka, Gujarat,” it said.
Cumulatively, the firms will start producing 1,11,000 vials of Amphotericin-B a month from July. The Union Health Ministry and the Dept of Pharmaceuticals are together trying to proactively facilitate the 5 manufacturers to advance some production so the additional supplies begin in June.
The ministry said in collaboration with MEA it is actively exploring other global sources from where the Amphotericin-B drug can be imported. “Union Health Ministry is also trying to procure other antifungal drugs which can be used in the treatment of black fungus,” it said.
Steroids strict no-no for mild patients: Dr Guleria
Amid rise of mucormycosis (black fungus) infection, diabetic patients are advised to frequently monitor and control their blood sugar levels. Diabetic patients (those with uncontrolled diabetes), steroid usage and being corona positive, a combination of these factors places one under risk of getting mucormycosis. Therefore, diabetic patients should regularly monitor and control their blood sugar levels. Mucormycosis or black fungus infection is not a new disease and it was reported even before the pandemic. Its incidence, however, was very low. Now, owing to Covid-19, this rare but fatal fungal infection is being reported in large numbers. The Coronavirus Disease Associated Mucormycosis (CAM) is being seen in patients who are either recovering or have recovered from Covid-19. Director AIIMS, Dr Randeep Guleria, explained earlier, mucormycosis was commonly spotted in people suffering from diabetes mellitus, a condition where one’s blood sugar (glucose) levels are abnormally high. “Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, those who have had a transplant and people taking immunosuppressants (medications that weaken the immune system) also used to get it. But now due to Covid-19 and its treatment, an increase in the number of cases is being witnessed,” Dr Guleria said.