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TB Patients, Activists Protest Drug Shortages In New Delhi

“Tuberculosis patients and activists protested outside the federal health ministry in New Delhi Wednesday, angered at a shortage of life-saving medicines in government clinics,” the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog reports. “Since January this year, pediatric drugs for tuberculosis have been in short supply in many Indian states, according to TB officials,” the blog states, adding, “Government TB officers in several state and local programs say they began experiencing shortages of streptomycin, a TB drug, late last year. By January, some state and local officials say, they were also short of low-dose rifampicin, a more powerful TB drug.” The blog notes, “A five-year grant from the British government to provide TB drugs through the Stop TB Partnership’s global drug-procurement facility expired in 2011,” adding, “The Indian government didn’t immediately solicit bids from companies to replace the supply of drugs, which is a lengthy process, an official close to the Central TB Division told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month.” According to “India Real Time,” “More than 1.5 million people currently receive free drugs at 13,000 Indian government centers nationwide.” The blog continues, “Ministry officials told protesters that they are ‘responding to the crisis,’ according to [Blessina Kumar, a health activist and vice-chair for Geneva-based Stop TB Partnership], who attended the meeting” (Shah/Pokharel, 6/27).