Friday May 27, 2022
Friday May 27, 2022

COVID patients struggling to survive sans antiviral medicines

Growing reports of black marketing of life-saving antiviral drugs


Nepalnews
2021 May 05, 21:49, Kathmandu
File - People are seen on the premises of TU Teaching Hospital in Maharajgunj, Kathmandu, on September 13, 2012. Photo courtesy: Krish Dulal

As the Department of Drug Administration informed the general public that 3,000 vials of antiviral injection 'Remdesivir' were brought and distributed to hospitals, many serious patients receiving treatment at hospitals were turned down by the hospital administration saying that they have to find the drug themselves.

The DDA in a notice said the antiviral drug has been imported through the criteria. The notice stated that the injection manufactured in Bangladesh have been made available in the hospitals treating COVID patients.

The department further urged doctors to prescribe the antiviral drug to the patients by adopting treatment protocol and to promote its convenient use as Remdesivir is not required in the treatment of all patients of COVID and also the drug is not an efficient medicine for the treatment.

Hamro Medi Concern, Kathmandu has imported 3,000 vials of Bemsivir injection (Remdesivir) manufactured by Beximco Pharmaceuticals in Bangladesh. The DDA further stated that the injection manufactured in Bangladesh will be made available in the hospitals treating COVID patients.

However, many relatives of hospital patients complained that they were turned down by the hospital they were admitted to and told to find the injection vials themselves.

Deepesh Paul Thakur, Director for Local to Global Advocacy and impact at World Vision International, said his 78-year-old mother, who has been receiving treatment at TU Teaching Hospital was told to find the Remdesivir injection. A patient undergoing treatment against COVID-19 has to take at least seven doses of the antiviral injection. Thakur said he could not find the injection in any drugstore.

Remdesivir medicine was the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The antiviral medicine has been in use in the treatment of COVID-19 disease in hospitalised patients including children aged 12 years and older who weigh at least 40 kg.

Likewise, Prof Dr Dinesh Kumar Lamsal, COVID-19 contact person at Civil Service Hospital, Kathmandu, said that the hospital has witnessed a sharp increase in incoming patients for the past few weeks but the antiviral medicines including Remdesivir used in the treatment of the disease have also gone out of stock.

Dr Lamsal, who along with his family members are in isolation, told NepalNews that although the Department of Drug Administration announced the import and distribution of the injection, the hospital has not received any. He lamented that the country has no proper system of documenting medicines in stock.

He claimed that some black marketeers were involved in the illegal trade of antiviral injection. He lamented that the Remdisivir injection was being sold at the price of Rs 15,000 in the black market in broad daylight today but the law enforcers and the authorities concerned have not taken action against them.

However, Central Police Spokesperson and Information Officer, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Basanta Bahadur Kunwar told NepalNews that security personnel have been mobilised to investigate and scrutinise complaints of black marketing of antiviral drugs.

Meanwhile, the senior doctor who is in isolation said, "It is even difficult for me to get the antiviral medicines for my family members, just imagine what could be the situation of others receiving COVID treatment at hospitals." He also informed that he may need to admit himself to the ICU or HDU anytime for oxygen support as he has now a sore throat problem.


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remdesivir Antiviral drug drug shortage in Nepal COVID Patients TU Teaching Hospital injection import medicine import Department of Drug Administration DDA
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