Health Policy

Govt gearing up to launch free TB drugs scheme

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The Health Ministry held meetings with leading pharma companies to explore the possibility of them manufacturing and supplying certain drugs for the scheme

New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry has started consultations with the leading pharmaceutical companies to roll out plan for supplying free drugs to the tuberculosis (TB) patients through select pharmacies in the private sector.

“We met the officials of some leading companies and asked them if they could manufacture some drugs which the government wanted to distribute or covered under the national programme. The companies are positive to the proposal,” a Ministry official said.

The proposal is to distribute TB drugs to those patients registered under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP).

Some drug shops in each district will be identified and the drugs would be sold free to the patients. The costs would be reimbursed within six months to the chemists. The programme is expected to cost additional Rs 150 crore to the government per year, apart from Rs 350 crore now spent to treat TB patients under RNTCP.

The Ministry has also asked for software from the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to set up the system. The patients will be given unique IDs and can then buy the drugs from any shop as per their schedule. The government will bear the expenses.

India reports 15 lakh new cases of TB every year. About one in six deaths among adults aged 15-49 are caused by TB. Nearly 10,000 cases of multi-drug resistant are estimated to occur annually. TB was declared a notifiable disease in May this year, making it compulsory for all private doctors, caregivers and clinics treating a patient of this air-borne disease to report the case to the government.

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