G Kamini, whose father was admitted to a private hospital in Chennai, said she had to pay Rs 25,000 to buy four vials of Remdesivir. Even two days after the medicine was handed over to the hospital staff, she is yet to hear of any improvement in her father’s condition nor is she allowed to visit him due to fear of catching the infection.
“We don’t know whether the medicine was administered and if it is working. I hear these drugs are effective only in some cases. Then why is everyone running behind it,” Kamini asked.
Similarly, Raghunath paid more than Rs 1 lakh for Tocilizumab. However, the family wonder if the drug was of any use, as the patient died two days later. What makes the family suspicious about the treatment protocol is that they have not receive case sheets and other treatment details.
However, private hospitals say case sheet is given only upon discharge, and that patients are not informed about day-to-day treatment procedures as per protocol. “In case of death, the family members usually don’t take case sheets and treatment details,” said a person from a private hospital in Vadapalani.
Considering the increasing demand and resultant black marketing of Tocilizumab, its distribution to private hospitals would be channelled only through government authorities, said KP Raja, one of the Cipla distributors in Chennai. “The drugs have been given to government authorities from distributors,” he said.
Meanwhile, the drug control officials said the Health Department was identifying locations like Sowcarpet, Medavakkam and Tambaram, where the drugs are suspected to be hoarded. Surprise inspections were being undertaken and those hoarding the drugs were being arrested, officials said.
“Patients should directly approach the Drug Controller of India for Tocilizumab, while Remdesivir should be obtained from counters at Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation or Government Kilpauk Medical College Hospital,” said Dr K Sivabalan, State Drug Controller.