Survivors of drug-resistant tuberculosis, health organisations and the TB community have appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow issuance of compulsory licence for two of the essential drugs for drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) treatment so that Indian drug-makers can sell them at affordable prices.
Bedaquiline and Delamanid are recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for DR-TB patients.
While Bedaquiline was added to the WHO Essential Medicines List (EML) for TB in 2015, Delamanid was added to the WHO EML for children in 2017.
The Patents Act provides for a special provision that empowers the central government to notify a compulsory licence for public non-commercial use. The license for Bedaquiline and Delamanid would encourage generic production and supply to India's TB Control Program and reserving them for public health use, health activist Ketholelie Angami said in a statement.
Prices of these drugs could be reduced by up to 95 per cent through generic competition, he said.
Drug-resistant TB is a major public health problem across the globe. Out of the 10 million people who fell ill with tuberculosis (TB) in 2016 alone, over half a million are estimated to have resistance to the most effective drugs used to treat TB, Rifampicin and Isoniazid.
These new TB drugs offer fresh hope to those at high risk of treatment failure; notably, people living with HIV co-infected with DR-TB, children with DR-TB, extensively and pre-extensively drug resistant TB patients and those with drug intolerance.
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