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Combat Casualty Drugs

Topics Covered:

  1. Development and indigenization of technology.


Combat Casualty Drugs


What to study?

  • For Prelims: About INMAS, DRDO and composition of Combat Casualty Drugs.
  • For Mains: Significance, need and potential of these drugs.


Context: DRDO’s medical laboratory has come up with a range of ‘combat casualty drugs’ that can extend the golden hour of gravely wounded security personnel till the trooper is shifted to hospital.

It has been developed at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences, a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.


Combat Casualty Drugs:

The spectrum includes bleeding wound sealants, super absorptive dressings and glycerated salines, all of which can save lives in the event of warfare in jungle and high altitude areas as well as in terror attacks.

Glycerated saline is a battlefield intravenous fluid that does not freeze till -18 degrees Celsius and is useful in handling trauma cases in high altitude areas. Glycerated saline, unlike normal saline, reduces inflammation. The drug can be lifesaving, particularly if the traumatic edema, collection of fluid in tissues and cavities of the body, is in the brain or lungs.

A special medicated dressing material, in the kit, is 200 times more absorptive than normal dressings during bleeding wounds. These cellulose fibre-based dressings are more effective in stopping bleeding and keeping the wound clean. Additionally, antiseptics, antibiotics and curcumin can be impregnated in the dressing which acts as a slow drug release system.

Chitosan gel helps in preventing blood loss by forming a film over the wound. Coupled with platelets and red blood cells aggregation, it stops the bleeding. Its antibacterial and wound health properties are of added benefit. Chitosan gel is suitable for sealing wounds by twin action: haemostasis by chemical action and filing action. It can be used for wounds on the limbs and also cavities such as abdomen and thorax.

Part of the range is hypocholorous acid (HOCL), a disinfectant for troopers involved in jungle warfare. It is helpful in treating necrotising fascitis, a rapidly progressing bacterial infection of soft tissues. Bacterial toxins cause local tissue damage and necrosis, as well as blunt immune system responses.


Why do we need such kits?

The challenges are many. There is only one medical person and limited equipment to take care of soldiers during combat in most cases. This is compounded by battlefield conditions such as forests, hilly terrain and inaccessibility of vehicles.


Significance and the need:

  • 90% of gravely wounded security personnel succumb to injuries within a few hours. And the availability of proper medical facilities can extend this golden period and help save lives. Chances of survival and minimum disability are highest when effective first aid care is given within the golden hour.
  • The main battlefield emergencies are excess bleeding, sepsis, shock, hypovolemia (decreased blood volume) and pain. DRDO’s indigenously made medicines will be a boon for paramilitary and defence personnel during warfare.