Stating that death of 82 mucormycosis patients in the state since June 7 was “disturbing” and that “no patient should die for want of medicines,” the Bombay High Court asked the Centre on Thursday to increase allocation of Amphotericin-B vials, used in treatment of the disease, to Maharashtra. The court said that Centre’s allocation of the key drug to states appeared to be “irrational” and noted that Maharashtra was not getting adequate vials despite being a “critical state” due to increase in number of mucormycosis cases.
The observation came after the Maharashtra government, through Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, informed the HC that the number of mucormycosis deaths in the state had gone up from 518 on June 7 to 600 as on June 10.
Noting that “in-house production” of drugs was insufficient, the court asked the Centre to import the medicines from other countries. “Find out which countries have production but have less number of cases and import from them,” HC said.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a clutch of PILs alleging improper Covid-19 management in Maharashtra.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing Centre, said it had allocated an average of 4000 vials of Amphotericin-B a day to Maharashtra between May 11 and June 9. “There is too much of a shortage of supply,” HC said.
The court said, “82 patients have died…This is a disturbing figure and we have to save lives. Out of 23,254 mucormycosis cases, 25% are in Maharashtra, while allocation of drugs is nearly 20 per cent. This is inadequate and not proportional. See to it allocation is increased. We do not want deaths because of (want of) medicines.”
Pointing out at the “mismatch” in the allocation of the drug and requirement of the states, the court noted that while Daman and Diu had no active cases, the allocation to the Union Territory was of 500 vials whereas no injections had been allocated to Tripura, which reported one case.
“Are drugs really reaching the place where they are needed?” HC said.
The bench also directed the state government to widely publicise through electronic and print media the precautions and other measures laid down by the state paediatric task force to protect children from Covid-19 during the projected third wave.
The bench also expressed “serious” concerns over lack of supply of Tocilizumab, a drug used in Covid treatment, to various districts and said the government should not remain “complacent” due to drop in number of cases.
Meanwhile, the Aurangabad bench of the HC, while hearing another PIL, said shortage of Amphotericin-B was “worrisome”, adding the death rate would not come down without the Centre taking steps to improve the drug allocation.
The HC will hear the PILs next on Friday.