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Shortage of critical medicines hits drug-resistant TB patients | Mumbai News – Times of India



MUMBAI: In the city and various regions across the country, a shortage of at least four crucial medicines for treating drug-resistant tuberculosis is greatly impacting patients.
Several activist and patient groups wrote to the union health minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, earlier this week, appealing for their intervention to expedite the procurement of these medications.
Anti-TB medications, including Linezolid, Clofazimine, Cycloserine and Moxifloxacin, have been in short supply for over a month at both public treatment centres and private pharmacies. Shortage for newer drugs such as Delamanid is emerging too. The Central TB Division (CTD), responsible for procuring and distributing these medicines to all states, reportedly did not initiate tenders earlier this year, resulting in these stockouts.
This shortage is particularly noticeable in cities such as Mumbai, which carries a significant burden of drug-resistant TB cases. Maharashtra has nearly 10,000 multi-drug resistant TB patients, of whom 5,000-odd are from the city alone. While BMC officials downplayed the shortage, stating they currently have stocks and are prepared to acquire medicines for the upcoming months, activist Ganesh Acharya said patients are encountering difficulties. They are being directed to source medicines from private pharmacies.
A 27-year-old woman registered at the Parel health post said she spends Rs 1,700 per week to buy Linezolid, Clofazimine and Cycloserine from private chemists. Another patient admitted at GTB Hospital in Sewri for multi-drug resistant TB said there was a four-day period earlier this month when several of her medicines were unavailable. Acharya said these medications cost up to Rs 10,000 a month and, crucially, Clofazimine is unavailable even at private chemists.
The fear is that many could discontinue medicines, which could potentially exacerbate drug resistance, said TB expert Dr Vikas Oswal.
A civic staffer said in place of 20,000 pills for their ward, they have got 2,000. Dr Daksha Shah, BMC’s executive health officer, said they have made local purchases and the BMC is preparing to buy medicines considering the central supply may not arrive until October.
State TB officer Dr Sunita Golait told TOI the state has provided funds to Mumbai where the shortage is most acute to expedite purchase of drugs. “We have also reached out to other states where the requirement for MDR-TB drugs may be less,” she said. Over the past six months, the CTD has requested states to procure medicines independently, said officials. On Wednesday, CTD once again asked states to report which drugs are in short supply. Survivors Against TB and advocates have written to the health minister demanding a probe into the shortage.



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