The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to file a status report on availability of Liposomal Amphotericin B – a drug used for treating patients of black fungus, which primarily affects those who have recovered from COVID-19. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh asked the Centre to also indicate the status of quantities of Liposomal Amphotericin B actually imported and the outstanding supplies and also its domestic production.
The report shall be filed by the Central government within a week, the court said. The court inquired whether there is any shortage of the medicine currently, to which the amicus curiae submitted that there is no shortage currently as the number of patients have gone down.
But the issue is whether the medicine would be available in sufficient quantity when the need would arise, he said. The bench observed that if preparations are going on for the third wave of COVID-19, the court needs to see the arrangement for it.
The court also asked the government to deal with the issues in terms of urgency and first take up the aspects which are more urgent, like availability of medicines and buffer stock of oxygen. The court was informed by the Centre’s counsel that presently there are 17,000 cases of black fungus in the country, which have come down from 23-24,000.
Regarding Remdesivir, which was being used in COVID-19 treatment, the high court asked the Centre to file status report indicating whether export of the medicine has started and also the status of its stock. The court also asked the Centre to inform if stock of the medicine manufactured for export purposes is now permitted to be sold in the domestic market.
Earlier, exports of Remdesivir were stopped by the Centre and the high court had questioned the holding of exports of the medicine at the ports if it cannot be diverted to the domestic market. The court had in June expressed satisfaction over the guidelines issued by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) on possible treatment options for black fungus for which Liposomal Amphotericin B was the drug of choice and asked the expert body to review it on regular interval.
The court was informed that the criteria for prioritising patients for the treatment of mucormycosis (Black Fungus) with Liposomal Amphotericin B was young patients and those in whom surgical debridement is not possible or incomplete. The issue of shortage of the medicine for treating black fungus was raised by advocate Rakesh Malhotra, who said these cases are rising.
According to the Union Health Ministry, mucormycosis or black fungus is a complication caused by a fungal infection. People catch mucormycosis by coming in contact with the fungal spores in the environment. It can also develop on the skin after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, scrape, burn, or other type of skin trauma. The disease is being detected among patients who are recovering or have recovered from COVID-19. Moreover, anyone who is diabetic and whose immune system is not functioning well needs to be on the guard against this, the ministry has said.