Maharashtra may have over 2,000 Mucormycosis cases, says Rajesh Tope; seeks cut in medicine prices

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has decided to use hospitals attached to medical colleges as treatment centres for Mucormycosis, a serious but rare fungal infection now affecting coronavirus patients, said health minister Rajesh Tope on Tuesday.

Symptoms of Mucormycosis, also known as black fungus, include headache, fever, pain under the eyes, nasal or sinus congestion and partial loss of vision.

He said, "There could be over 2,000 Mucormycosis patients in the state as of now and with more and more COVID- 19 cases coming up, their number would increase for sure."

The state government has decided to select hospitals attached to medical colleges for treatment of Mucormycosis patients as it demands a multidisciplinary approach, Tope said.

He said black fungus has a 50 percent mortality rate and is found in COVID-19 patients with suppressed immunity or co-morbidities.

"A Mucormycosis patient needs to be seen by various experts such as ENT, ophthalmologists and neurologists among others. We are trying to cover most of the treatment under the Mahatma Phule Jan Aarogya Yojana (the state's flagship health scheme), the minister said.

Commenting over the costly treatment, he said, "I will be writing to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority to bring down the MRP of medicines needed for Mucormycosis treatment."

Amphotercin-B is a key medicine required for treatment of such patients. Haffkine (a state-run pharma firm based in Mumbai) is going float a tender for one lakh injections of the drug, Tope said.