While India gears up to potentially deal with a rising number of patients requiring hospitalisation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s drug regulator has asked chemists to help ensure sufficient stock of medicines required in the treatment of such cases. This includes 55 medicines like certain antibiotics, nebulisers and emergency cardiac drugs that may be required for COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU, according to an association representing over 8 lakh chemists in the country.
The association, All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD), on Friday asked its members to ensure “sufficient availability” of these drugs in pharmacies. The 55 drugs include those to treat low blood pressure like adrenaline and atropine, arrhythmia drug amiodarone, muscle relaxant fentanyl, nebulisation medication salbutamol and antibiotics like amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin and metronidazole.
The association has also asked its members to ensure availability of nearly 100 other essential drugs like paracetamol, amoxicillin, acyclovir, insulin, glimepiride and amlodipine. “At present, we have more than one month’s stock (of all the medicines) with our trade,” AIOCD general secretary Rajiv Singhal told The Indian Express.
The move comes after the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation asked chemist and druggist associations to take “proactive” steps to help ensure availability of these drugs with “assured” quality at affordable prices.
The regulator had also asked them to help in monitoring stockpiling of products like sanitizers and to help it tighten procedures to monitor for any possible shortages of these drugs due to disruptions in global supplies. The regulator is trying to ensure these drugs are available at affordable prices in the market and prevent black-marketing, illegal hoarding, thus creating artificial shortages.
“Stockpiling of medications can result in reduced volume of medicines in supply chains, which could compromise the ability of the healthcare system to respond to a crisis,” stated a letter by Drug Controller General of India VG Somani dated April 16, a copy of which The Indian Express has reviewed. Email queries, calls and a message sent to the DCGI on Friday remained unanswered by press time.
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