Doctors, Cops, Common Citizens: Everyone Struggles to Procure Remdesivir Amid Acute Shortage

·5-min read

Despite health experts suggesting otherwise, Remdesivir drug is considered a life saver for moderately ill Covid-19 patients, due to which this anti-viral injection is currently facing acute shortage across the country. To tackle its shortage in Maharashtra, the distribution of Remdesivir and some other critical injections are now being controlled by the regional Collector’s office and drug officers.

The government has also set up helplines to ensure its availability to needy patients. However, the ground reality is different and adds the helplessness of family members trying to get their hands on this critical drug for their infected loved ones. While some find their way through by paying exorbitant amounts in the black market, for some it is impossible, and a few others get lucky in the nick of time.

75-year-old’s Miraculous Battle

A 75-year-old woman in Maharashtra’s Ghatkopar, whose family was told she may not survive more than 24-48 hours after contracting severe Covid-19, miraculously got cured of the infection in the nick of time. Shailaja Nakwe, a diabetic, was brought to the hospital on April 6 in a critical condition — with over 90% of her lungs infected and oxygen saturation at 65. Doctors treating the woman informed her sons, Shirish and Prashant, to arrange Remdesivir injection on an immediate basis as the hospital had run out of stock, and their mother needed a jab immediately. After several calls made to those who could help, the injection was procured in wee hours of the night through a pharma contact of an extended family member. The woman was later discharged from the hospital after 13 days of treatment.

API-level Officer Loses Parent Despite Contacts in Dept

An API level in Nashik officer lost his parent to Covid-19 as the man could not manage to arrange Remdesivir at the right time. The man made frantic calls to the Collector, the local civic body, an activist friend in Mumbai and several other contacts in the department, yet to no avail. Few days later, while Remdesivir was still out of his reach despite connections in the government departments, the man’s aged parent succumbed to the infection.

Patient on Ventilator Support Receives 6 Injections in Nick of Time

A Covid-19 patient’s brother miraculously arranged six injections of Remdesivir in the nick to time to save the life of the patient who was on ventilator support. Vikrant (name changed) got a call from his brother who was admitted to Mumbai’s jumbo Covid facility after testing positive for the virus. As the patient conveyed his distress of not being able to breathe even with the help of an oxygen mask, his family decided to shift him to a private facility. After being refused a bed at several private hospitals across the city, a hospital in Marol admitted the patient. However, soon the hospital informed Vikrant that his brother would need Remdesivir injections to survive the infection. While FDA refused help to the hospital, the patient’s family made several calls with no breakthrough. Finally, Vikrant reached the Collector’s office where he was informed that he would have to go to the BMC ward office in H-Ward, show the hospital’s prescription, fill a form and then bring it back to the Collectors office. However, the time was running out with no hope of receiving the injection. Vikrant also visited a state-run hospital in his ward and made a call to the regional Collector where the private hospital was treating his brother, but was refused the injection. Soon, Vikrant learnt about a drug dealer who could help and luckily, he turned out to be an authorised supplier. After waiting in a long que outside his store from 7am to 10am the next day, Vikrant finally got one injection. At the same time, the hospital managed to get one too, and another one came from one of his political connections in Mumbai. Quite in the nick of time, Vikrant was able to get six injections of Remdesivir and save his brothers life whose condition had worsened by then.

Patient’s Family Travels from Amravati to Mumbai to Get Black-marketed Injection

Not being able to get Remdesivir in Amravati, the second largest city in Vidharba region of Maharashtra, a family of a hospitalised Covid-19 patient reached out to their relatives in Mumbai for help. After few stressful hours of search with no response, the family was told that it was available at a black market in Mumbai for a whopping Rs 25,000. Their relative in the city picked up the stock, however, he was scared to be caught as he did not have a valid bill for the drug. He waited for someone from the family in Amravati to reach Mumbai's Dadar station who arrived there late in the night, took the drug and sped back to their home town to have it administered to the patient.

Doctor Arranges Injection for Hospital Father in Kolkata from Another City

Despite working for a pharma company as a sales head himself, Dr Sudip Nagar had to struggle to a great extent to get the drug for his hospitalised father in Kolkata. After facing crunch not only in Maharashtra but pan-India, the doctor arranged the injection from Bangalore and send it to Kolkata, he recalled. Speaking on another incident, he said that he had to arrange Tocilizumab for his client in Delhi from another city. “The regulation on these drugs is not working…most of the helplines floating on WhatsApp and other apps are fake and there is a panic situation when someone is in need,” said Dr Sudip.

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