July 24, 2018
Dr Santanu Sen speaks on shortage of drugs for treatment of drug-resistant TB patients
India has 2.8 million new Tuberculosis cases every year, a quarter of all cases worldwide. Of this, 2.8% of people do not respond to the most used TB drugs. WHO’s 2018 Global Tuberculosis Report estimates India’s Multi Drug Resistant-TB (MDR-TB) burden at 147,000.The drug Delamanid comes as a relief to this group of people who are drug resistant. It is the only drug that has been approved by WHO for drug resistant patients as young as six. It is a safe and effective medication.
The government has announced that 400 doses of Delamanid will be sourced by an Indian pharmaceutical company from its Japanese manufacturer by next month. These 400 doses(a meager number) will go to patients in 7 states, i.e., Punjab, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Odisha, Kerala and Lakshadweep, across 21 centres under the government’s Revised National TB Control Programme. They will be administered free of cost to the patients.
However, states with the highest incidence of MDR-TB do not have access to this life-saving drug. Mumbai with the highest incidence of drug resistant TB patients is not included. Bedaquline, another drug used to treat MDR-TB, is also in short supply. India’s ambitious target to reduce TB by 2025 cannot be met if timely access to essential drugs is not available to most of its TB affected population.