Ankit Sharma Sharma
Green tea Addict | A Tree Hugger | Born for Change
A vital drug Furoped, commonly known as Lasix, generally prescribed for babies with heart ailments has become unavailable after acute shortages were reported. The dearth has been attributed to the price cap set by the central government, bringing its value down from Rs 100-110 to Rs 10, reported The Indian Express.
The Life Saving Drug: Lasix
The drug used as a diuretic (water pills used to increase water and salts in the body), is given to the babies to fish out bodily fluids, thus decreasing the burden on the heart.
Moreover, the drug is also used to treat high blood pressure, prevent strokes and kidney related problems.
National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) fixed a low price of Furoped at Rs 10. The existing stocks did last a few months. However, shortages followed soon.
The Indian Express quoted a letter dated June 4, in which the NPPA had asked Samarth Pharmaceuticals, the only seller of the drug in India, to “rush the supplies to the affected area and submit a compliance report to this office”.
Furthermore, RK Vats Chairman of NPPA also talked to the media outlet and mentioned that the supplies had decreased by 40%. He was quoted as saying, “The matter has been brought to our notice, and we are looking into it. We had called the manufacturer earlier for information about production cost, etc., which they have now provided. It is our endeavour that nobody should suffer because of a drug shortage, and we understand that nobody can sell a product below cost price. This will be taken up at the next meeting of the authority on June 28.”
Samarth who admitted to receiving complaints vis-à-vis the shortages, since November last year, told The Indian Express, “We have rushed supplies to wherever we received complaints from.” He further says that the drug was brought under price control in November. The price was reduced by 92% from Rs 106-110 to Rs 10. “As a commercial enterprise, I cannot sell a product at lower than my manufacturing cost. However, as responsible corporate citizens and because this is a medicine for kids and almost a monopoly situation, we are trying to maintain supplies. However, we cannot do it in vast quantities,” he further says. Additionally, he also stated that approximately 30-35 lakh units of the drug were retailed, before the price cut.
The Right Dosage
The Doctors have also noted that the parents have been forced to break the adult dosage pill of 40mg into smaller 2mg pieces to give their babies, which could and has proved dangerous if not weighed properly.
Elaborating the same, Pediatric Cardiologist Dr Vikas Kohli was quoted by the newspaper which mentioned an IT couple who overdosed their child by over ten times. He said that educated parents are having the problem with the right dosage. He further adds that parents who are not much educated will face more problems because of the unavailability of the drug.
Nowhere to be found
Parents are struggling to find the drug in stores, as one Delhi based parent Yogesh Raghav found, struggling for almost two months now as his 18-month old daughter fights for her life. He said, “My daughter was born with a hole in the heart. She needs that drug every day, or fluid starts accumulating. I have tried chemists everywhere in Delhi, but the drug is not available”, The Indian Express reported.
Another parent from Ludhiana has a similar story to tell whose 6-month old son is in dire needs of the drug, he said, “My son has a heart problem that makes fluid accumulate in the lungs. He was off this medication for some time. Last week, when the doctor restarted it, I could not get it anywhere. I borrowed half-a-bottle from another parent, but once that this is exhausted, I don’t know what to do.”
Also published on Medium.
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