Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday said that the shortage of amphotericin B drug, which is used in the treatment of mucormycosis, will be resolved soon. Mucormycosis is also known as “black fungus”.

“Within three days, 5 more pharma companies have got new drug approval for producing it in India, in addition to the existing 6 pharma companies,” tweeted Mandaviya. “The existing pharma companies have already started ramping up the production.”

The Union minister said that Indian companies have also placed orders for importing 6 lakh vials of the drug. “We are leaving no stone unturned to smoothen the situation,” he added.

The fungal infection, which has been found in several coronavirus patients across the country, mostly after they have recovered, involves headache, fever, pain under the eyes, nasal or sinus congestion and partial loss of vision. The rare infection is caused by a fungus named mucor, which is found on wet surfaces.

The disease, which was initially spotted among Covid patients in Gujarat and Maharashtra, has now spread to other parts of the country as well. Various state governments have started taking steps against the disease.

On Thursday, the Telangana and Tamil Nadu governments issued orders declaring “black fungus” a notifiable disease. On the same day, the Union health ministry wrote to all states and Union Territories asking them to declare mucormycosis a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897.

Import ‘black fungus’ medicine from wherever available: Delhi HC to Centre

Amid the shortage of amphotericin B, the Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Centre to import the drug from wherever it is available in the world, reported The Indian Express. The High Court also asked the government to place on record the steps it was taking to import the medicine.

A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said the domestic production of the drug was “far less” than the present day requirement across India. The High Court said it was afraid that just ramping up the production would not meet the needs.

“You need to import to bridge this gap between the plan to produce more and the actual production coming about, otherwise we will lose more precious lives,” the High Court said. “We want you to act today.”

It also directed the government to disclose the present production capacity, details of those who have the licence to produce the medicine, their present capacity and their enhanced capacity. It asked the Centre to inform it by when the enhanced capacity would become available. The court also sought data regarding the present caseload and the projected caseload for the next two weeks.

The Centre informed the High Court that there were 7,251 black fungus cases across India as of May 19. The number of such patients in Delhi was 197. The government said about 82,110 vials have been allocated between May 10 and May 20 across India and patients require 42 vials in a week.

It said that Delhi was given 2,150 vials on May 11, another 600 on Wednesday and 430 on Thursday.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, told the High Court that the Centre has allocated 2,150 vials of the drug to the national Capital for up to May 31, reported the Hindustan Times. He said that this includes 1,850 vials through Bharat Serums and Vaccines and 300 through Mylan Laboratories.

Mehra said that the Delhi government needs 1 lakh vials of the drug in the next five weeks. He added that the Delhi government was not misplaced in asking the Centre for these vials.