TB survivors urge health ministry to rake immediate action on critical anti-TB drug shortages

SATB is urging swift and immediate action from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to resolve this situation

New Delhi: Survivors Against TB (SATB), a collective of TB survivors, experts, and advocates, has written to Mansukh Mandaviya, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, India, to address the alarming shortage of vital anti-TB drugs across different parts of the country.
Reports have surfaced indicating a severe shortage of essential anti-TB medications, including Linezolid, Clofazimine, and Cycloserine, in Government Hospitals and private pharmacies in Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, and potentially other states. This crisis, initially brought to light by patient advocates and news reports, is raising concerns about a possible nationwide crisis affecting TB patients’ access to crucial medications.
These medications are critical components of TB treatment regimens, especially for Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR TB). The reported shortage, observed since June 2023, has the potential to endanger the health and well-being of patients who rely on these medications for their TB treatment.
SATB is urging swift and immediate action from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to resolve this situation. The group highlights the unnecessary burden that drug shortages place on TB-affected individuals and communities, compounding the challenges they already face.
“India, often referred to as the ‘pharmacy of the world’, has made significant commitments to eliminating TB. However, the current drug shortages undermine these efforts, hinder the availability of crucial medications and impact citizens’ right to health”, says Ashna Ashesh, MDR TB survivor, lawyer, public health professional and SATB fellow.
To address this crisis, SATB is urgently requesting the following actions from the Ministry:
1. Immediate Investigation: Conduct a comprehensive national investigation into the drug shortages and the distribution of drugs nearing their expiry date.
2. Swift Procurement and Supply: Ensure the rapid procurement and distribution of Linezolid, Clofazimine, and Cycloserine to Government Hospitals and private pharmacies.
3. Robust Forecasting Mechanism: Establish a robust mechanism for drug forecasting to prevent future shortages and ensure a continuous supply of essential anti-TB medications.
4. Public Statement: Release a public statement outlining the Ministry’s actions to address this crisis and ensure that TB-affected individuals receive the care they deserve.
“SATB firmly believes that with timely and decisive action, this crisis can be averted, ensuring that TB affected individuals receive the person-centred care they deserve”, says Chapal Mehra, Convenor SATB.
SATB looks forward to a prompt response from the Ministry and stands ready to collaborate in addressing this urgent matter.