As cases of Black Fungus cases or mucormycosis continue to register across the country, Pharma companies are scrambling to ramp up the production of antifungal drug Amphotericin B injection.
Though there are few cases of Black Fungus in the country, at 140 per million people, but the mortality rate is high 38 percent. The overuse of steroids in Covid-19 patients, especially in people with comorbidities like diabetes, is said to be the primary reason for the current cases of Black Fungus cases. Hospitals are reporting 10-15 times more cases over normal times, Moneycontrol reported.
The report quoted industry sources saying that it would take at least 15-30 days for new production to enter the market, as the drug is complex to manufacture and would require a certain number of days of sterility data before the batch is released.
“There has been a sudden increase in demand for Liposomal Amphotericin B in India due to the rising cases of mucormycosis," Sun Pharma spokesperson reportedly said.
The spokesperson added that they have ramped up the production of Lambin 50 Inj (Liposomal Amphotericin B) to meet the additional demand. He also said that the company is confident of increasing the production rapidly.
Amphotericin B is the primary drug required to treat cases of Black Fungus that damages the nose, eyes, sinuses, and sometimes even the brain. The demand is especially acute for Amphotericin B of Liposomal formulation.
In normal times there was no demand for the product. So, the companies were manufacturing only in limited quantities not exceeding tens of thousands of vials.
Another major supplier Serums and Vaccines (BSV) said that the primary focus of the company is to address the current demand for Liposomal Amphotericin B in the country due to rising fungal infection cases.
The company added that it is constantly in touch with doctors, hospitals and stockists to further understand the requirements and provide timely support.
BSV said that the company is working with the government and suppliers of raw materials to expand production
“..the company is unceasingly working with the government authorities and suppliers to meet the increased demand of key input materials and developing various measures to assist the patients in every possible way,” BSV spokesperson said.
The shortages have also led to hoarding and black marketing of the drug, where the prices are quoted at 5-10 times the maximum retail price.
Shortages and soaring prices in the black market have pressed the Centre and state governments into action.
Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Mansukh Mandaviya on May 18 reviewed the requirement and supply position of Amphotericin B.
He said the government has chalked out a strategy with manufacturers to increase domestic production as well as to import the drug from all over the world, and assured that the shortage is expected to be resolved at the earliest.