New Delhi: The Supreme Court last week had directed the Centre to change its thrice weekly regimen of tuberculosis (TB) drugs for patients to a daily regimen. The orders were issued on a PIL filed by TB specialist Dr Raman Kakkar, who said the current treatment protocol was endangering lives.
For the last 25 years, the National TB programme has been giving a patient a thrice weekly dose of TB drugs.
However, recent evidence has shown that daily regimen is better than intermittent regimen in certain categories of patients.
The petitioner, Dr Kakkar said, “I found there was a significant number of cases of patients who had relapsed after being cured of TB.”
Dr Kakkar said he and his team examined the data for nearly 40,000 patients treated under the DOTS programme in Faridabad. According to him, the number of cases that had relapsed was 12.7 per cent.
Respecting the Supreme Court’s orders, the Centre said that transition to daily drug regimen has already been accepted.
The expert committee had recommended that daily drug regimen three years ago. The government blamed the delay on procurement of drugs.
Dr Sunil D Khaparde, Deputy Director General (TB), said, “We got the formal approval from the Health Ministry in 2015. After that we started the procurement system. Procurement is a complicated process and can take 6 to 9 months.”
Before adopting the new treatment protocol, the staff at the district, state and medical officer level will be trained, and under the daily regimen, drugs will be given according to the patient’s weight. The new programme will also monitor adverse effects of the drugs.
Five states – Maharashtra, Bihar, Kerala, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh – will be adopting the daily dose regimen in the first phase.
The Supreme Court has given a nine month deadline to the government to roll out the daily dose regimen in the rest of the country.
According to estimates by researchers, India contributes to 27 per cent of the TB burden in the world. In 2016, the World Health Organisation estimated that there were 28 lakh new cases of TB in the country.