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Chandigarh faces a shortage of Tocilizumab

Manufactured by a Switzerland-based company and marketed by Cipla in India, one vial of the drug is priced above Rs 40,000, yet, it is not available in the Chandigarh market for two weeks now.

Written by Parul | Chandigarh |
Updated: April 21, 2021 9:33:18 am
Chandigarh faces a shortage of TocilizumabEarlier used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, Tocilizumab, an immunosuppressive drug, is now being used for treating critically ill Covid patients, and is said to reduce Covid deaths. (AP/File)

Earlier used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, Tocilizumab, an immunosuppressive drug, is now being used for treating critically ill Covid patients, and is said to reduce Covid deaths.

Manufactured by a Switzerland-based company and marketed by Cipla in India, one vial of the drug is priced above Rs 40,000, yet, it is not available in the Chandigarh market for two weeks now. Many patients require it, but have not been able to source it here in the Tricity.

According to a senior doctor, the injection is used at stage 3 or 4 of Covid, when the patient is not responding to any other Covid treatment, is in a critical and emergency stage, in respiratory distress. “Treatment protocols keep changing, and demand of Tocilizumab was not very high in the earlier stage of the pandemic, as it wasn’t said to be very effective, like Remdesivir, which is now being used in moderate Covid patients, in the early stages of the disease.

With the new strains spreading infection and the virus mutating, medical practitioners are also changing treatment to save lives. So, when the demand wasn’t high, the supply became limited, and now across the country, there is a shortage, including Tricity,” said the doctor.

Known to be effective against Sars-CoV-2, Tocilizumab, says Viney Jain, of the Chandigarh Chemists Association, has been out of stock, with many pharmacists and registered outlets that are authorised to keep it, saying that they haven’t received supply for the past many days now, so obviously the shortage, with many people also booking it in advance.

“The drug is very strictly controlled, given only on a doctor’s prescription, with a Covid positive report, after submission of the Aadhaar card of the patient and the person who is buying it. The demand is so high across the country that we don’t know how and when will be able to meet it, for we don’t know when we will receive the supply, and how many vials we will finally get,” said Jain.

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