Wall Street Journal Examines Global Shortage Of TB Drugs

“The U.S., India and other nations are facing shortages of tuberculosis [TB] drugs — threatening to reverse decades of progress against a deadly disease that is becoming increasingly untreatable,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “Worldwide, TB is becoming increasingly drug-resistant, and drug shortages are ‘one of the main reasons,’ said Lucica Ditiu, executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, which oversees a global drug-procurement facility used by more than 123 countries,” the newspaper writes. “In India, some clinics are turning away sick children due to short supplies of pediatric doses, and in a risky move, adult pills are sometimes being split to approximate children’s dosages,” according to the Wall Street Journal. “Doctors in at least four other countries in Africa, South Asia and South America have reported drug shortages recently, according to Erica Lessem, assistant director of the TB/HIV Project at Treatment Action Group, a research and policy think tank,” the newspaper notes.

“The shortages reflect fundamental problems including poor government-procurement systems, weak supply chains, poor profitability for some drugs and inadequate methods of gauging demand,” the Wall Street Journal reports and further details the situation in India. “Mario Raviglione, the WHO’s TB chief, said India’s problem is surprising because Indian drug makers supply the vast majority of the world’s TB patients,” the newspaper writes. “The extent of global shortages is difficult to assess for some of the very reasons shortages occur: poor tracking of drug supply and a lack of good global reporting systems,” the newspaper states, adding, “At present, drug makers say governments order so erratically and estimate demand so poorly that it is hard to manufacture the right amount” (Anand/Shah/McKay, 6/6).

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