18-year-old girl to get drug resistant TB drug: Health ministry to Delhi High Court
The month-long legal battle of an 18-year-old girl, suffering from a drug resistant form of TB and in critical stage, finally paid off on Wednesday with the health ministry agreeing to administer her with Bedaquiline, used to treat drug resistant forms of TB.
Bedaquiline, made by pharma major Johnson and Johnson, was added after 50 years to India’s TB-control programme to treat extensively drug resistant tuberculosis, which cannot be treated with existing drugs.
Since March 2016, the drugs has been made available in six sites in India - two centres in Delhi and one each in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Guwahati. The administration of Bedaquiline is restricted and available only through the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP).
Capital’s Lala Ram Swarup (LRS) TB Hospital, which is part of the National Institute of Tuberculousis and Respiratory Diseases, told the Delhi High Court that it was ready to administer the medicine to the patient under its supervision.
LRS TB hospital had earlier refused to administer Bedaquiline to the patient, hailing from Patna, without drug sensitivity test saying it could lead to development of a strain which is resistant to this medication also.
The hospital’s stand changed after senior counsel Anand Grover, appearing for the father of the girl, submitted a drug sensitivity test report carried out of the girl last year.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva asked the health ministry whether the TB medical centre in Mumbai can administer Bedaquiline to the patient as she has been moved there.
The judge also asked the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to expeditiously decide the application on behalf of the girl’s father to import a new drug – Delamanid - which is one of the two optional medications to treat her disease.
The court has posted the case for further hearing on January 20.
Kaushal Tripathi, father of the patient, said his daughter has been suffering from TB since the age of 13 and her health has consistently deteriorated despite the treatment provided under the care of the government hospital.
It was only in 2013 when after first line and second line treatment failed that drug sensitivity tests and cultures revealed that she had multiple drug resistant TB, Tripathi said.
However, access to Bedaquiline has, in practice, only been restricted to those who are domiciled in any of the six sites. And Tripathi’s effort to get his daughter treatment done at one of the Delhi center was denied on the ground that she is not a resident of Delhi.
Tripathi moved the court last month as his daughter’s health was at a critical stage.
Grover said that with ‘geographical’ factors has been done away with in her case as LRS TB Hospital has agreed to treat her here.
An estimated 25,00 people with TB in India are resistant to second line medicines, who can only be effectively treated with Bedaquiline.