Sale of tuberculosis drugs could be prohibited in open market as part of efforts to ensure calibrated and monitored administration of these medicines which would then only be given on daily basis free of cost by government registered outlets to patients.
The Health Ministry is proposing changes in view of irregularity in administration of these drugs to patients and lack of proper monitoring which is hindering efforts to check the disease, sources told PTI.
According to a WHO estimate, India is home to the largest number of TB patients - 2.2 million of the world’s 8.7 million.
Patients are administered TB medicines either through government-run hospitals and clinics free of cost or by private practitioners.
According to the Health Ministry, about 65 per cent of the TB patients avail these drugs under the government’s DOT (Daily Observed Therapy) System while the rest opt for treatment by private practitioners and buy drugs from the chemists based on their prescription.
The latter results in irregularity of treatment which leads to relapse of the ailment as there is lack of proper monitoring, the sources said citing experts.
To address this, the government is planning to prohibit sale of drugs in open market.
Under the new initiative, patients going to private practitioners for treatment will get medicines free of cost from chemists but only after the doctor informs them through a dedicated call centre to be set up by the government.
The changes are being brought to ensure that all TB patients are administered the drugs on daily basis instead of intermittently as at present.
Recently, Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad had expressed concern on the issue saying that the irregular regime is leading to growing resistance to anti-TB drugs.
The Health Ministry officials recently had held a meeting with WHO and other experts who had emphasised on changing intermittent dosage system to daily regime.
During the meeting, it was informed that many other countries including Brazil, China, which were following the intermittent dosage system, have now turned to daily regime.