covid treatment Demand for Covid antibody therapy increases in Calcutta, docs warn of abuse

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Monoclonal antibody cocktails are now the most sought-after drugs among Covid patients in Calcutta and demand is increasing every day, fueling fears of a shortage.

Before Covid cases started to escalate from December 27, drug cocktails were in demand but not as much as in the past three days.

Doctors attribute the surge in demand to a surge in Covid cases.

Many Covid patients call doctors, asking them to give them a cocktail. A doctor said that for many patients, the monoclonal antibody cocktails are a wonder drug that immediately clears the virus from the body and thus shortens their stay in isolation or in hospital.

Another reason for the increase in demand is that despite the high cost, drugs are covered by most insurance companies.

The drugs come in a two-dose package, each costing between Rs 56,000 and around Rs 60,000, hospital officials said.

The Belle Vue clinic is said to have barely five to six patients per week taking a monoclonal antibody drug. For two days, the hospital has administered the drug daily to more than 50 Covid patients.

“There is now a very high demand for the monoclonal cocktail drug. A person can be admitted and left within four hours of taking the medicine. Even last week, we received the supply within two hours of placing the order. But now it takes 14-15 hours. In addition, we must make a commitment that there will be no refunds, ”said Pradip Tondon, CEO of Belle Vue.

Other hospitals are also experiencing an increase in demand.

“We have seen the drugs reduce symptoms quite quickly and lead to negative reports early on. Ten patients had cocktails Thursday and Friday, ”said Rupali Basu, Managing Director and CEO of Woodlands Multispeciality Hospital.

In October, only seven patients had taken cocktails in the hospital. As of December, until last week, 13 patients had received cocktails.

In AMRI hospitals in Dhakuria, 15 patients received cocktails on Friday. Previously, one or two would receive a cocktail in a week, said a hospital official.

Doctors have warned that antibody cocktails should not be prescribed indiscriminately.

“Given in the early stage of Covid, the drug prevents the progression of mild to severe disease. There is enough data around the world on its effectiveness. But a question is who should be administered the drug. It is indicated for a group of people at high risk, elderly or with co-morbidities. It is not necessary for young people without comorbidity, ”said Chandramouli Bhattacharya, infectious disease expert at Peerless Hospital.

He cited guidelines issued by health authorities in the UK and US, saying that an antibody test should be done before administering cocktails of antibodies.

“If a particular antibody is present, the drug will have no effect,” Bhattacharya said.

In India, too, there should be a clear usage guideline.

“In addition, some of the monoclonal antibodies, bamlanivimab plus etesevimab and casarivimab plus indevimab, are not expected to be effective against Omicron. The one that should keep working is sotrovimab, but it is not available in India right now, ”Bhattacharya said.

Sauren Panja, head of the intensive care unit at the RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, said he was receiving at least four requests per day for cocktail therapy.

“The therapy works, but under certain conditions. We are following the guidelines for administering the drug and discouraging others as this will lead to unnecessary shortages, ”said Panja.

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