New TB drug now available across Maharashtra, not just in Mumbai
Bedaquiline is also available to patients being treated in private hospitals, but its sale is banned in India; it’s available only on doctor’s recommendation to TB officers.Updated: Jun 04, 2018 12:00 IST
The state has upped its ante against tuberculosis (TB), as the health department has expanded access to the newest anti-TB drug, bedaquiline, to patients across Maharashtra.
- TB is an airborne disease caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. Although it typically affects the lungs, which is known as pulmonary TB, it can also infect other parts of the body, called extra-pulmonary TB.
- Inappropriate or incorrect use of antimicrobial drugs, or use of ineffective formulations of drugs and premature treatment interruption can cause drug resistance, says the World Health Organization.
- Bedaquiline is an anti-TB drug used specifically to treat TB patients who are resistant to most powerful anti-TB drugs such as rifampicin, isoniazid, and other core anti-TB drugs, and have developed multidrug-resistant TB.
- It is the first anti-TB drug to have been rolled out in the last 40 years.
The access to the drug was limited to Mumbai until last year, keeping patients suffering from extensively drug-resistant (XDR) form of TB away from the reach of bedaquiline.
An official from the state health department said since April 18, new patients with (XDR) — three from Thane, seven from Sangli, four each from Nashik and Akola — have begun the six-month-long course of the drug.
“The decision has come in after the Supreme Court said that the drug must be made available to all the patients eligible, based on the drug-resistance pattern. Earlier, the drug was only available for patients in Mumbai,” the official said.
The court had said the domicile or residence of patients is not a criterion for eligibility of bedaquiline under the government’s conditional access programme.
World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the drug based on the severity of the resistance. XDR is a rare form of Multi Drug Resistance (MDR) TB infection that is resistant to at least four of the core anti-TB drugs.
Not all patients can be given the drug. “There is an inclusion criterion. Patients must be above 18 years of age and are required to be admitted to a hospital for a period of two weeks,” said Sanjeev Kamble, director, Directorate of Health Services, Maharashtra.
Bedaquiline is also available to patients undergoing treatment in private hospitals. But the sale of the drug is banned in India. It is available only on doctor’s recommendation with the city or district TB officers.
“Doctors treating patients can approach the TB officer after checking the patient’s drug resistance. The patient will be administered the drug at the hospital where the treatment is ongoing,” a WHO official said.