COVID-19: State Government doctors instructed to give single doses of Tocilizumab if needed

Chaitraly Deshmukh
Tuesday, 1 September 2020

The Maharashtra state's Directorate of the Medical Education has issued clear instructions to all district, government and private doctors to give the injection only if the patient needs it medically. This is likely to stop the confusion created by Tocilizumab.

Pune: Tocilizumab (Actemara) is an experimental drug for COVID-19 patients. According to the instructions, patients should be monitored at least for the span of five to nine days, upon giving the drug to ensure its effectiveness. 

The Maharashtra state's Directorate of the Medical Education has issued clear instructions to all district, government and private doctors to give the injection only if the patient needs it medically. This is likely to stop the confusion created by Tocilizumab.

Despite the absence of any concrete study, Tocilizumab drug priced at Rs 40,000 was being used continuously in the state on critically ill patients. Either the drug was not available early and even though it cost around Rs 40,000, the patients were facing financial difficulties. Also, patients were rushing to get it.

The manufacturer of the drug has recently announced that it is not effective on corona and there is a shortage of the drug. The relatives of the patients had to suffer due to confusion about the use of this drug and not getting it.

Regarding the use of this drug, the Director of the Directorate of Medical Education, Dr Tatyarao Lahane has issued these guidelines to all the doctors treating the task force in all the districts of the state, government and private and municipal hospitals. According to the guidelines issued by the State Task Force and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the drug should be administered only in severe coronary artery disease. When treating corona patients, the drug should be given at the right dose, at the right time.

Drug available in limited quantities

The drug has been imported in limited quantities by Roche, a manufacturer of the drug, following a trial of its effectiveness in the coronary pandemic. Therefore, it is less available in the market. The Maharashtra State Government has requested the Drug Control Authority of the Central Government to make this drug available in sufficient quantity, the letter said.

Tocilizumab drug off label

The Maharashtra state government has termed the drug 'Tosilizumab' as 'off label'. An 'off-label' drug is a drug that is approved by the state government for the treatment of a disease, that is not approved. 

Originally, the drug 'Tocilizumab' is used for arthritis patients on the advice of a doctor.

Speaking to Sakal Times Dr Tatyarao Lahane, Director, Directorate of Medical Education said that, "The Tosilizumab medicine should be given only once. It should not overdosed. Italizumab should be given as an alternative by the treating doctor. This will help dispel the confusion between patients and their relatives."

Related News

​ ​