After ICMR revises guidelines on plasma therapy, YCMH stops donor and request helplines

"Since the government has dropped plasma therapy from Covid protocol, we too have stopped Plasma Donor Helpline and Plasma Request Helpline," YCM hospital dean Dr Rajendra Wable told The Indian Express on Tuesday.

After the central government on Monday dropped the off-label use of convalescent plasma from the guideline, citing its ineffectiveness, YCM hospital on Tuesday stopped the Plasma Donor Helpline and Plasma Request Helpline. The hospital administration said it will wait for a final order on halting plasma therapy altogether.

“Since the government has dropped plasma therapy from Covid protocol, we too have stopped Plasma Donor Helpline and Plasma Request Helpline,” dean Dr Rajendra Wable told The Indian Express on Tuesday.

Dr Wable said stopping the helplines meant donors will not crowd the hospital, besides there will be no calls requesting plasma bags for Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment at other hospitals.

On Monday, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said, following a meeting between its officials and the national task force, Clinical Guidance for Management of Adult Covid-19 Patients had been revised and convalescent plasma had been dropped from the guidelines.

The guidelines had suggested use of plasma therapy when the Covid-19 patient had moderate disease or within seven days of the onset of symptoms.

Dr Wable said they will wait for the final communication from the state government regarding plasma therapy. “In the meantime, collection of plasma for other infections will continue. Also, till we receive the final communication, we will leave it to the concerned physician to take a call on plasma therapy. Each physician had a different experience with plasma therapy, so we will leave it to them. If they want plasma for the patient, we will make it available,” he said.

Prof Pravin Soni, incharge of department of medicine, YCMH, said, “After the ICMR decision, we have stopped plasma therapy at the hospital. Anyway, plasma therapy was not benefiting Covid patients… I have instructed our doctors not to use plasma therapy on Covid patients.”

Dr Aniket Lathi, one of the doctors looking after plasma therapy at YCMH, said, “Plasma therapy seems to have been dropped after it was observed that virulent strain developed after its irrational use.” He added that ICMR has said plasma therapy did not offer any benefit to patients when the disease was progressing to a severe form.

Dr Shankar Mosalgi, who heads YCMH blood bank that collects plasma from patients who have recovered from Covid-19, said, “We will wait for FDA (Food and Drug Administration) guidelines in this connection. So far, we have not received any communication from the government…”

When contacted, FDA joint commissioner S B Patil said, “I am aware of the decision by the government. We are also waiting for communication from the government. As soon as we receive it, we will disseminate information to hospitals and blood banks.”

Dr Mosalgi said in the last one year, they had provided plasma to 3,000 patients. “This number is both civic hospital patients as well as those from other hospitals in Pimpri-Chinchwad,” he said.

Dr Mosalgi added that their observation was that plasma therapy was being used irrationally. “Some private hospital doctors recommended plasma when other options had failed. Actually, two plasma bags for one patient is the norm. But some doctors demanded more than two. I know about one prominent personality, for whom five bags were collected from YCMH. This only reflected the irrational use of plasma,” he said.

Dr Mosalgi also said a few days ago, 20 to 22 people were turning up to donate plasma. “The number had come down to less than 10 recently,” he said, adding that the PCMC had promised Rs 2,000 per donation.

He said they had not been able to keep track of the number of patients that benefited from plasma therapy.

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