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The Indian Express
14 Dec 2012

Over the counter sale of first line anti–tuberculosis (TB) drugs is all set to stop.

Patients who have registered with the national TB programme – registration will be the responsibility of physicians as and when patients consult them – will get the drugs free from their local chemists, who, in turn, will get a small incentive for being part of the programme.

The scheme, aimed at preventing drug resistance, would ensure not just 100 per cent notification of the disease but also focussed door–to–door monitoring of patients to detect any non–compliance to treatment protocol.

Dr Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services, said, "We have started holding workshops for doctors, chemists and even manufacturers. The system will be in place latest by March 2013."

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"When a patient visits a doctor and is prescribed first line anti–TB drugs, the doctor will have to access our website and feed his/her details. That will generate the RNTCP (revised national TB control programme) number. It is only when a patient gives that number to the chemist that drugs will be given. The chemist in turn will have to update the names and quantities of the drug supplied," he said.

The new system will be in addition to the DOTS programme which has been one of India’s most notable TB control initiatives, and will cater to the 40 per cent TB patients who go to private doctors. The total cost of DOTS and the free drugs scheme will come to approximately Rs 400 crore. Once it is well–established, the scheme will be extended to MDR drugs too, Dr Prasad said.

All medical associations, private hospitals and 168 government medical colleges have been roped in to ensure success.

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