Survivors Against TB (SATB) — a collective of TB survivors, experts, and advocates — has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking measures to address the shortage of anti-TB drugs across the country. The organisation said the drug shortages continue even a month after it had flagged the issue in a letter to the Minister of Health and Family Welfare.

“Reports have continued to surface indicating a severe shortage of essential anti-TB medications, including linezolid, clofazimine, and cycloserine, in government hospitals and private pharmacies in Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, and potentially other states,” SATB mentioned in a press statement.  

SATB added that this crisis, initially brought to light by patients’ advocates and news reports, remains unresolved, affecting TB patients’ access to crucial medications, especially for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB). The reported shortage since June 2023 has the potential to endanger the health and well-being of patients, SATB added. 

SATB has urged swift action from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and now the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), to resolve the issue. The group highlighted the unnecessary burden that drug shortages place on TB-affected individuals and communities, compounding the challenges they already face.

“India has made significant commitments to eliminating TB, including its Jan Andolan. However, the current drug shortages undermine these efforts, hinder the availability of crucial medications and impact citizens’ right to health,” says Deepti Chavan, MDR TB survivor, patient advocate and SATB fellow.

SATB wants the PMO to conduct a comprehensive national investigation into the drug shortage and the distribution of drugs nearing their expiry date.

It also demanded rapid procurement and distribution of linezolid, clofazimine, and cycloserine to government hospitals and private pharmacies.

“SATB firmly believes that with timely and decisive action, this crisis can be averted, ensuring that TB-affected individuals receive the person-centred care they deserve,” said Chapal Mehra, Convenor, SATB.