Pharma & drug development

Fighting India’s black fungus epidemic

The Drugs Controller General of India has cleared applications from five pharmaceutical companies to manufacture the anti-fungal drug Amphotericin B, used to treat mucormycosis or black fungus. But what exactly is black fungus and what can be done to combat the rise of this condition alongside Covid-19? Abi Millar finds out.

In May, just as the Delta variant of Covid-19 was ripping its way through India, we began to hear reports of a second epidemic. Mucormycosis, otherwise known as ‘black fungus’, was affecting thousands of patients in India who had also been afflicted with Covid-19. 

Normally very rare, mucormycosis is caused by inhaling mucor mould spores, found in soil and vegetation. While these spores don’t typically cause infection, vulnerable people – such as those with reduced immune function – may develop a debilitating array of symptoms. 

The fungus colonises blood vessels, which can lead to tissue death and a loss of oxygen supply. Left untreated, mucormycosis has a fatality rate of 50% or more.

As case numbers began to pick up, the Indian Government ordered tighter surveillance of the infection. By late June, 40,845 mucormycosis cases had been reported, most of which affected the eyes, nasal passages, brain and sinuses. The overwhelming majority of patients (85.5%) were recovering from Covid-19 and more than 3,000 had died. 

Read the rest of this article in the August 2021 edition of Pharma Technology Focus

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