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The government has started engaging pharmaceutical companies manufacturing amphotericin B to raise the production of anti-fungal drug used to treat mucormycosis, the “black fungus" infection seen in some covid-19 patients.

“A sudden increase in demand has been observed in some states for amphotericin B which is being actively prescribed by the physicians to patients suffering from mucormycosis, a post-covid complication. The Government of India is therefore engaging with the manufacturers to ramp up production of the drug. The supply position is expected to improve with extra imports of this drug and increase in its production domestically," the department of pharmaceuticals said in a statement on Wednesday.

The department also said that it has reviewed the stock position and demand pattern for amphotericin B and allocated the drug to states and Union territories based on the expected supply till 31 May.

The central government has also asked states to put in place a mechanism for the equitable distribution of the drug among all hospitals treating covid-19 patients and to publicize the ‘point of contact’ for these hospitals to obtain the drug from the state’s allocation. The National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA), the regulatory body responsible for drug price and availability, will monitor the supply of the amphotericin B drug, the department said.

In India, Bharat Serums and Vaccine, Wockhardt, Abbott Healthcare, United Biotech and Cipla are among the manufacturers of the drug, according to data on NPPA’s website.

Demand for amphotericin B has seen an increase over the last few weeks due to an increase in cases of mucormycosis, which is a rare infection seen in some patients who are on medication for covid-19 or recovered from it.

According to experts, mucormycosis is an opportunistic infection seen in people with weak immune systems like patients with diabetes and those on immunosupressants.

Patients suffering from covid-19 are being prescribed steroids in order to tackle a potential overdrive in immune response, which can potentially put the patient at a greater risk for the disease.

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