Albumin, a life-saving injection is in short supply for the last few days has forced the relatives of patients to run around in search of vials in Mumbai.
Albumin is a life-saving drug for liver failure patients as it helps control a severe symptom of the condition: accumulation of fluid in the body. "Certain patients undergoing dialysis also need it sometimes. For such patients, there is no substitute to albumin," said nephrologist Dr Madan Bahadur, who is attached to the JJ Group of Hospitals. Liver specialist Dr Aabha Nagral said, "Seven patients admitted under my care at this moment need albumin desperately, but it is extremely difficult to procure."
Dr Nagral said, "It is a paradox that a drug that was difficult for patients to buy because it was expensive became unavailable the minute its price was reduced." A doctor said there are rumors of the drug being hoarded.
Various chemists revealed the extent of the shortage of albumin. Dilip Mehta of the Maharashtra State Chemists & Druggists Association said the shortage was due to a demand-supply imbalance. "Albumin is drawn from human plasma donation. As there is a shortage of plasma donation right now, there seems to be a shortage of albumin."
But Dr Khusrav Bajan, who heads the intensive care unit of Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, said, "Albumin was being indiscriminately used. It is needed only for a certain group of patients. If albumin is in short supply, it is because it was overused."