Health Ministry rebuts media reports on shortage of anti-TB drugs in India, its effectiveness

New Delhi: Regular assessments are conducted to evaluate stock positions at various levels, ministry says

BY | Tuesday, 26 September, 2023

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India has refuted media reports alleging shortage of anti-TB drugs in India and questioning the effectiveness of such drugs under the National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP).

“Such reports are vague and ill-informed, without any specific information on the availability of anti-TB medicines in stock,” the ministry stated in a press release. It clarified that that all drugs used in the treatment of tuberculosis were available with sufficient stocks ranging six months and above.

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The health ministry stated that procurement, storage, maintenance of stock and in-time distribution of anti-TB drugs and other materials are being done at the Central level under NTEP. In rare situations, States were requested to procure few drugs locally for a limited period by utilizing the budget under National Health Mission (NHM) so that individual patient care is not affected.

It also mentioned that significant efforts have been made to ensure the availability of essential anti- TB drugs and that regular assessments are conducted to evaluate the stock positions at various levels, from central warehouses to peripheral health institutes.

The ministry said that the treatment of drug sensitive tuberculosis consists of two months of four drugs available as four FDC (Isoniazid, Rifampicin, Ethambutol and Pyrazinamide) followed by two months of three drugs available as four FDC (Isoniazid, Rifampicin and Ethambutol). All these drugs are available with sufficient stocks ranging six months and above, it said.

The treatment regimen of Multi Drug resistant TB consists of usually four months of seven drugs (bedaquiline, levofloxacin, clofazimine, isoniazid, ethambutol, pyrazinamide and ethionamide) followed by five months of four drugs (levofloxacin, clofazimine, pyrazinamide and ethambutol). In about 30% of persons with drug resistant TB, cycloserine and linezolid is required.

More than 15 months stocks of Moxifloxacin 400mg and Pyridoxine are available under NTEP. Also, Delamanid 50 mg and Clofazimine 100 mg were procured in August 2023 and supplied to all states and UTs. Moreover, P.O has been issued on 23.09.2023 for the supply of additional 8 lakh qty of Delamanid 50 mg tablets, the health ministry stated.

In addition to the stocks mentioned above, the purchase orders were issued for the supply of Linezolid-600mg and Cap Cycloserine-250 mg in August 2023.  The drugs are being dispatched to the states.

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