Reinvigorating its efforts towards eradication of tuberculosis by 2025, the Maharashtra government has recently approved a proposal to supply free TB drugs to retail chemists in parts of the state which will ensure poor patients’ access to TB drugs smoothly.
On March 14, 2018 Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) had written to Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) informing them about the decision. DMER in the letter stated that the chemists with a valid licence will get TB drugs from the state government. They can store and distribute drugs to TB patients for free.
Lakhs of resource crunch TB patients visiting DOTS centres to get TB drugs will benefit from the initiative. All the medicines required to treat TB patients are available free of cost at DOTS centres under Revised National TB Control Program (RNTCP).
As of now certain chemists in Mumbai have been designated to get free TB drugs from the state government and supply them to patients. It will gradually be extended to parts of the state so that maximum patients benefit from the initiative, said Dr Sanjeev Kamble, state TB officer.
Talking about the criteria to identify the chemists for distribution of free TB drugs, Dr Kamble said “The chemists located in semi urban areas, urban areas reporting significant number of TB cases to the government will be designated for distribution of TB drugs to patients for free.”
Arjun Khadtare, joint commissioner, FDA confirming the DMER letter said “With this the chemists having valid licence can store and distribute free TB drugs to patients. The list of chemists who will get free TB drugs from the state government will be prepared by the state TB cell. We are ensuring strict implementation of Schedule H1 containing TB drugs at retail drug stores to make TB control programme more effective.”
As per Schedule H1, pharmacies are required to dispense anti TB drugs on prescription of a registered medical practitioner and maintain a separate register containing the name and address of the prescriber, the name of the patient, the name of the drug and the quantity supplied and such records shall be maintained for three years and be open for inspection.
TB was responsible for 1.7 million deaths in 2016, despite most cases being curable. India continues to have the highest number of TB cases in the world, stated the Global TB Report 2017 released by World Health Organization (WHO).