20 January 2012
By Rito Paul
Change the current drug policy was the refrain at a meeting of doctors at the KEM Hospital on Wednesday to chart out and discuss the plan of containing the XXDR–TB (extensively drug resistant TB).
Presenting his case to a team from Delhi and top city doctors, Dr P Keskar, head of the Mumbai TB cell, argued that the current drug policy is not effective enough to stop over–the–counter (OTC) sales of powerful drugs, including antibiotics, and this is one of the prime reasons why diseases like TB are developing resistance to antibiotics. He asked the central and the state officials present to clamp down on OTC sales of antibiotics.
“This issue has been pending for a long time now. We request the authorities to work with FDA (food and drug administration) and drug control authorities to ensure that the current drug policy is changed. Chemists must be made to keep a copy of the patient’s prescription with them and surprise checks should be conducted at pharmacies,” he said.
When Dr K C Mohanty, professor and head of the department of chest medicine at Somaiya Hospital, took the stage next, he blamed PD Hinduja Hospital for over–reacting to the new strain of TB by dubbing it totally drug–resistant.
He insisted that it wasn’t enough to just create DOTS centres in Mumbai. “Most patients with multi–drug resistant TB migrate to Mumbai, either for work or for treatment. We need to set up DOTS sites in all parts of Maharashtra and across India.”
Dr Mohanty also stressed that the process of accreditation for city laboratories needs to be speeded up so that there are enough reliable laboratories in the city to bear the increased burden of TB tests.
One sure–fire way to make patients complete the course of medicine, according to Dr Mohanty, is to ensure that conducting tests and giving medicines is a one–step process. “Patients are asked to come on three or four days to get all tests done. Sometimes, they do not come back to get the full treatment. We need to speed the process up.”