124 died in Marathwada due to mucormycosis: Maharashtra govt. tells Aurangabad Bench

Aurangabad Bench calls for detailed chart on patients under treatment, recovered and dead due to the ‘black fungus’

The Maharashtra government informed the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday that 124 people have died in the Marathwada region due to mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus. Special Public Prosecutor D.R. Kale told the Division Bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and B.D. Debadwar that there were 1,178 cases of black fungus in the Marathwada region, of which 669 patients were treated, 385 recovered, and 124 died.

The Bench has been continuously hearing a clutch of suo motu public interest litigations on the shortage of medicines, oxygen, ventilators, beds, etc., in the ongoing pandemic.

The court noted that, normally, a patient diagnosed with black fungus required one injection of Amphotericin B. However, sometimes, a patient may require two of these injections, and this goes on for four weeks.

Referring to an affidavit placed by Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh before the Principal Bench of the High Court, the court recorded, “The Medical Department of the State believes that a patient requires four to five vials for three to four weeks. Out of 2.76 lakh [vials] available with the Centre, 68,360 vials are allocated to Maharashtra and 2.5 lakh vials are expected to be produced by the end of this month.”

The court observed, “In Marathwada, 1,342 vials were received, which is approximately 20% of the required quantity of Amphotericin B.”

The court was informed that since there was a shortage in the supply of Amphotericin B, patients in Marathwada were under-treated and given either one or two of the injections. As a consequence, there had been 124 deaths till today. “There is a shortage of 70% of Amphotericin B,” the court noted.

Mr. Singh told the court that there had been 3,931 cases of mucormycosis in the State and from May 11 to May 31, and Maharashtra had received 6,860 vials. The alternate medicine is Posaconazole and Isavuconazole, and their import licenses had been granted.

He also said that there were eight pharmaceutical companies that produced the said drug and they had been directed to increase its manufacture within 20-25 days.

The court passed an order: “In Marathwada, as against the requirement of 50,178 vials to treat active patients, 13,428 vials were supplied. This is 30% of the required quantity. Patients are dying due to shortage of vials.”

The Bench then directed the government pleader to place a detailed chart before it, indicating the number of patients under treatment for mucormycosis, the number of patients recovered, and the number of deaths. It also called for a chart indicating the supply of Amphotericin B between June 2 till June 9, and adjourned the hearing to June 10.

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