Coronavirus Pandemic

India: Black fungus patients getting fleeced by unscrupulous drug sellers

Web report/Bengaluru
Filed on May 21, 2021
A doctor assists a Covid-19 coronavirus patient with black fungus. Photo: AFP

Shortage of drug used to treat mucormycosis resulting in patients getting cheated.

With rising mucormycosis (black fungus) infections, there is huge demand for Amphotericin B used to treat it, resulting in desperate patients being fleeced by operators.

The Bengaluru cybercrime police are investigating the case in which Govinda Raju, a Covid-19 patient, was diagnosed with black fungus.

“The doctors told the family to arrange the drug soon since the hospital did not have Amphotericin B in stock,” said a police spokesperson.

“The family made enquiries with various people regarding the drug. A man claiming to be a medical representative and identified as Ashok contacted the patient’s wife and promised that he would courier Amphotericin B once he received Rs790,000 (Dh39,719).”

The desperate family finally arranged for the funds and transferred it to him. Once he got the money, he switched off his phone and is not reachable.

Demand for the drug has soared in recent days in many Indian cities. In Nagpur, for instance, about 500 patients suffering from mucormycosis were desperate to get the medicine, which was in acute short supply. Besides the shortage of Amphotericin B, there was scarcity of similar cheaper drugs as well.

District collector Ravindra Thakare organised an online meeting with 50 experts including specialists and doctors, hospital reps and Covid task force members to tackle the problem confronting mucormycosis patients. With many hospitals facing an acute shortage of mucormycosis drugs, plans were drawn to tackle the crisis.

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