The Government Medical College Hospital (MCH), Kozhikode, is reportedly facing a shortage of life-saving drugs and surgical devices in the wake of distributors stopping their supply seeking clearance of pending dues.

The All-Kerala Chemists and Druggists Association had earlier this month said that the supply would be stopped from March 10. It is learnt, however, that they have not been providing fresh stock since March 9. Though the distributors supplying surgical devices such as stents, gloves, and the valves required for cardio-vascular surgeries had threatened to go on strike later this month, they too have reportedly stopped the supply. The drug distributors claimed on Tuesday that the payments from August 2023 were due, which would be around ₹75 crore. One of the functionaries of the association said that the authorities were yet to invite them for any talks. They are demanding that at least the dues till December 2023 be cleared.

According to sources, almost all major medical college hospitals are going through a similar crisis with the government not clearing funds worth crores of rupees. The government owes around ₹170 crore to the Kozhikode MCH under the Karunya Arogya Suraksha Padhathi.

The sources pointed out that there was no regular supply of medicines for neurological disorders, such as those used by epilepsy patients though they need to be used for a long time. Another area of concern was the shortage in supply of drugs which will have to be regularly administered to psychiatry patients. As some of those medicines are expensive, the poor cannot afford them. If the treatment is discontinued, it could lead to complications too.

Drugs for non-communicable diseases such as high or low blood sugar levels, hypertension, and cholesterol are always in high demand but in short supply. The stock of medicines at pharmacies always do not meet the requirements of patients. A large number of people regularly depend on the pharmacies at medical college hospitals because they get medicines for free from there. However, such drugs can be bought from local primary health centres or family health centres as well. Because of the focus on purchasing such medicines, the authorities are not able to ensure proper stock of life-saving drugs such as those for the treatment of cancer, the sources added.

Meanwhile, an official at the hospital, who wished not to be quoted, claimed there was nothing unusual about the current situation. He pointed out that the agreement for supplying medicines for the next financial year was getting ready, and that the stock would be replenished soon.

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