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Avoiding misuse of empty Amphotericin vials

Govt. hospitals are removing labels from vials of the anti-fungal drug or destroying them altogether post use

In view of possible misuse of empty Liposomal Amphotericin-B injection vials, government hospitals in the State are peeling off the labels from the containers or destroying them after use. A similar strategy had been followed by hospitals before discarding vials of Remdesivir, considered a key drug in COVID-19 treatment, to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

Earlier, the medicines vials were discarded as part of biomedical waste with the labels intact. Hospitals began to peel off labels from Remdesivir following reports of fraudsters filling saline or distilled water in the empty vials and selling them to desperate attendants of COVID-19 patients.

Mucormyocsis patients are admitted at Government ENT Hospital and Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital. And patients with fungal infection who are COVID-positive are admitted to Gandhi Hospital. A few government medical colleges in other districts are also treating patients with the fungal infection.

One of the important drug used in the treatment of the fungal infection is Liposomal Amphotericin-B which is in short supply. This raised concerns that the anti-fungal medicine too could be sold in black market. Each vial costs around ₹7,000.

Private hospitals earlier prescribed 60 to 100 vials per patients. So, just the cost for the medicine runs over ₹4 lakh. If it is sold in the black market, the price could be astronomical. The medicine is administered free of cost at the hospital.

COVID-19 nodal officer at Gandhi Hospital T. Prabhakar Reddy said they are peeling labels off of the empty Liposomal Amphotericin-B vials. The empty vials have to be returned and labels have to be pasted on case sheets of patients, before issuing new sets of vials.

Superintendent of Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital V. Rajalingam also said they are destroying the empty vials. Around 70 patients were admitted at the government eye hospital, and half of them were operated. “Empty vials are returned to the superintendent,” said Manish Gupta, associate professor at the ENT Hospital.

Private hospitals have to prepare a list of patients with the fungal infection, get approval for the medicines every day and source it from stockists. Doctors said since private hospitals staff have to visit stockists every day, they also have to be made to return empty vials with labels.

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