“The new drug would be given with the written consent of the patients. They will be informed that it is an experimental medicine,” a senior health official said.
Even as the state health department officials told TOI that the process to procure the consignment from Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is on, they said the drug would be confined to medical college hospitals initially to measure its efficacy. Only based on the opinion of the practising doctors, the state health department will go for large scale procurement.
“We have been informed that there is the availability of the 2-DG drug with the manufacturers. It will be tested in the medical colleges, and we will seek the opinion of the doctors,” health department spokesperson and Assam NHM executive director Dr Manoj Choudhury told TOI.
Without major trials, it is seen as experimental medicine but health officials are optimistic that the 2-DG drug can turn into a stroke of luck for states such as Assam, where decreasing oxygen level has raised the daily Covid death numbers. With the enhancement of the testing rate, the number of new cases has become stable, and the positivity rate has fallen below 6%. However, there has been no respite from the deaths, which continue to hover between 80-90 per day.
Assam’s director of medical education Dr Anup Kumar Barman, who is looking after the clinical aspects of the Covid-19 treatment, said the 2-DG medicine needs to be consumed by a patient for three days. If the drug is found to be effective, he said, three days will be enough to heal a patient to the level where he won’t have to struggle to gain oxygen level.
“It is said that if the 2-DG drug is used in an early stage, the oxygen level in the body can be maintained throughout and also helps in prevention of viral replication,” said Barman.
After India dropped convalescent plasma therapy from the list of treatments prescribed for the management of Covid-19 patients, health officials said the introduction of a new mode of treatment had become indispensable.
“Of late, the scope of plasma therapy is considered less. But the good news is that 2-DG is promising at the same time,” Barman added.
“Whether 2-DG sternly prevents the virus infection is a different matter. But if it can reduce the need for oxygen support. We hope that 2-DG will be beneficial in preventing deaths due to low oxygen saturation,” a health expert said, adding that in the absence of plasma therapy, Remdesivir now remains the best-known option for the critically ill Covid patients.