As many as 90 people have died of the fungal infection `mucormycosis' in Maharashtra so far and there is a shortage of a key medicine needed to treat it, state public health minister Rajesh Tope said on Wednesday. More than 200 patients of mucormycosis (also called Black Fungus) were detected in the last one week and he had urged the Union government to increase the supply of Amphotericin-B injection which is used in its treatment, he said.
"So far, 90 people have died due to mucormycosis in Maharashtra. It is serious….it should not be taken lightly," he told reporters here, without specifying the period during which these deaths were reported. The rare but fatal fungal infection is seen mostly in COVID-19 patients or survivors.
"Indiscriminate use of steroids to treat COVID-19 patients should be avoided," the minister added. "Maharashtra in the last week added some 200 to 500 patients of mucormycosis. Of 1,500 patients detected so far, some 500 have recovered while another 800 to 850 are still under treatment," the minister said.
The state needs 1.50 lakh to two lakh vials of Amphotericin-B right now, but has received only 16,000 from the Centre, he claimed. The available vials have been disbursed to all the districts as per the number of mucormycosis patients in each district, he said.
The Centre entirely controls the allocation of the medicine, he said. "Maharashtra has placed an order for 1.90 lakh vials of the medicine, but delivery is the problem because its supply is controlled by the union government. Our demand is do anything, but give more vials to Maharashtra because cases of Black Fungus infection are on rise," Tope said.
Two companies are going to supply the medicine to Maharashtra after May 31, therefore the next 10 days are critical, he said. He had spoken to Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Statefor Chemicals and Fertilisers and asked him to increase the supply of raw material for the medicine, Tope said.
"There are some pharma units in Wardha and Palghar districts where the medicine can be made. From one kilogram of raw material, 20,000 injections of Amphotericin-B can be produced," he said. "The state has made two kg of raw material available but it takes 20-25 days to manufacture the injection," Tope added.
The state government has decided to bear the cost of the treatment as well as medicines for mucormycosis patients irrespective of their income levels, he said.