tocilizumab: Dilemma for doctors as Roche’s Covid drug is ‘life-saver’ but too costly - (The Economic Times via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Roche's tocilizumab, which doctors in India are using to treat critically ill patients with COVID-19, is adding to rising hospital bills for those seeking care in private hospitals, reported The Economic Times.

  • The IL-6 inhibitor, which is marketed by Cipla, is also leaving physicians with the dilemma of administering it to those who can afford it.

  • The news source said that in India, the drug sold under the brand name Actemra, is approved for use in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, with a six-month course of treatment costing Rs 2.5 lakh. For COVID-19 patients, the cost is Rs 60,000 per dosage.

  • Private hospitals in Mumbai said most of them are administering Roche's drug for COVID-19 patients who are in the intensive care unit, "but since the cost is high, we are using this drug only on those patients who can afford it, there is also a shortage," said an official from a private hospital.

  • Shivkumar Utture, who heads the Mumbai chapter of the Indian Medical Association, said his organisation has received 40 doses of the drug from corporates to be given to public hospitals.

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