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Bengaluru: Kin of Covid patients scramble as doctors prescribe DRDO’s 2DG drug yet unavailable in market

Meanwhile, Kempaiah Suresh, Deputy Drugs Controller said the government was expecting 2DG packets to reach them only by the second week of June.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru |
Updated: May 26, 2021 6:55:34 am
A health worker keeps a check on a COVID-19 patient receiving oxygen in a bus, in Bengaluru. (Photo: PTI/Representational)

The kin of a 56-year-old female patient, who was admitted to a private hospital from her residence near C V Raman Nagar in Bengaluru, were shocked to see the doctor issuing a prescription to them to procure the new 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2DG) drug a day after its first batch was launched in an event in Delhi.

“We had just read about its launch in the news by the time the doctor in Bengaluru prescribed it to my aunt. As the doctor said it is important, we had no other option but to procure it somehow,” Sri Devi N, a digital marketing professional recalls a series of events that she went through since May 18.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, she said the first step towards procuring the drug — developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in collaboration with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories — was to post a request on social media, following which she teamed up with friends to reach out to influencers online and offline, including bureaucrats, politicians, and people in the pharma industry among others.

“We spent sleepless nights to finally procure 17 sachets from the company itself as a one-time measure. We were then relieved, but only temporarily,” she added.

Her aunt’s health, which showed improvement then, deteriorated later after which she was shifted to another private hospital. “The doctor in this hospital has also prescribed the same drug, but we are helpless now. With other members of her family continuing to be infected (in home isolation), we don’t know which door to knock now,” she says.

However, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories has not yet confirmed such a dispatch.

Meanwhile, Vinay R S, an engineering student, who lost his mother to Covid earlier this month, is now scrambling across people he finds “influential” online to get 2DG prescribed as a “lifesaver” for his 53-year-old father admitted to a private hospital in Whitefield.

“The doctor asked me on May 20 to get it as soon as possible for his health to get stabilised. My father’s oxygen saturation level had then dropped to 55-60. However, while some said they will try to arrange for the same, others forwarded numbers of drug controllers in the state. I have been on the lookout for the drug ” he said.

This led to him dialling up a few officials who told him that 2DG was not yet available in the market. “They also advised me not to pay heed to any calls I was possible to get until the beginning of June,” he explained.

As the patient’s health gradually improved in the next few days, Vinay was baffled to receive a call on May 23 claiming they could arrange the drug as per his requirement. “I felt something was fishy as these people did not care to ask even for the prescription before offering help. When I told them that it was not a requirement for me anymore, they hung up. I called them back again to try recording it but the number has been unreachable till now,” Vinay said. The 21-year-old was quick to note, “I feel that there’s a black market already running for 2DG.”

Meanwhile, Kempaiah Suresh, Deputy Drugs Controller said the government was expecting 2DG packets to reach them only by the second week of June. “We are aware that certain doctors in Bengaluru and other parts of the state have already started prescribing it. Concerned officials have been informed of the situation and measures to spread awareness among the people of its genuine availability will be taken,” he said.

When asked whether the government would regulate the supply similar to how Remdesivir is now being allocated directly to hospitals in the name of the concerned patient, Suresh added that a final decision was yet to be taken. “A final call will be taken based on the situation when 2DG is made available to us,” he added.

2DG launch, supply expected by mid-June: Dr Reddy’s

Meanwhile, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL) clarified to Indianexpress.com in a mail that 2DG was yet to be launched in the market.

“Price per sachet has not yet been announced. Commercial launch and supply of 2DG to major Government and private hospitals is expected to commence in mid-June. Price is being determined with a view to making it accessible and affordable to as many patients as possible, and will be announced soon,” the response read.

Further, DRL has also issued a public statement posted on their official handles across social media.

“Please beware of agents selling spurious or illegal products in the name of 2DG. Please beware of unverified messages relating to 2DG circulating on social media and on WhatsApp.”

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