Multidrug-resistant TB stock declines to alarming level

Even as the government is trying to tackle the stock-out situation for anti-tuberculosis paediatric drugs, a new problem has surfaced. Stocks of second-line medicines like Kanamycin, an injectible drug used for treating multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB have dipped alarmingly. Currently, there is stock only for two and a half months. India is among the few countries with a high burden of MDR TB.
The Prime Minister’s Office has asked the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) for clarification on the availability of drugs.
The Central TB Division (CTD) called an emergency meeting to find the way forward to extenuate the crisis. Manufacturers of paediatric drugs, prolongation pouches and streptomycin have been identified and the ministry is hopeful of getting supplies to states by the end of July. States with a lower disease burden have been asked to transfer drugs to those with a higher burden facing extreme shortage of drugs.
Why this lapse?
The shortage of drugs was due to procurement failures and delays at the level of the government of India. It also confirmed stock-out of paediatric doses, Rifampicin (the key drug to treat TB), streptomycin injection as well as diminishing stockpiles of Kanamycin injections and other first line drugs. The emergency procurement of paediatric drugs was delayed by six months and the orders had just been placed.
As for Kanamycin, emergency procurement of over 400,000 vials, done with the support of the Geneva-based Global Drug Facility (GDF) through WHO’s intervention had not reached the country because of delays in processing orders, payments and the ministry not issuing the necessary customs duty clearance on time.

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