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.