Across India, 69 non-government organisations have appealed to the Prime Minister and Union Health Minister to fasten the process of rolling out delamanid, a relatively newer drug used for treating highly resistant strains of tuberculosis infection. In an open letter to the BJP-led government, organisations that aid TB patients or aid HIV positive patients at risk of TB infection have asked for a controlled roll out of delamanid by October 11 this year, followed by scale up to all TB patients requiring the drug.
“Delamanid has been available in the European Union and Japan for over three years, and India is one of the few high burden developing countries to have received a registration dossier and granted approval by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for its use in RNTCP’s (Revised National Tuberculosis control Programme),” the letter states.
“While we understand delamanid’s introduction may need to begin in a phased manner, we have been disheartened by the extremely slow scale up of bedaquiline throughout India,” said social activist Ganesh Acharya, a cured TB patient.
Delamanid is a newer drug that is used for patients who have stopped responding to first and second line treatment of TB drugs. It is, however, used sparingly by doctors to avoid chances of drug resistance.
In March, the central TB division had plans to roll out delamanid within four months in India. In 2016, the Union Health Ministry rolled out bedaquiline, another drug used for highly resistant TB strains, for 600 patients in controlled trial. While bedaquiline is currently available for patients in five cities, including Mumbai, Delhi, Guwahati, Chennai and Ahmedabad, more patients in other cities are demanding it to treat drug resistant strains.
India accounted for 2.8 million new TB cases in 2015, an increase from 2.2 million in 2014. Every year, over 99,000 new drug resistant patients are diagnosed. Currently, only few hospitals procure the delamanid drug through tedious paperwork apart from Medecins Sans Frontieres, who procures it for patients who have stopped responding to all other drugs.