Making child friendly TB medicines available: a game changer for India

22 October 2016 - Geneva, Switzerland - In a serious effort to ensure best standards of care for people with TB, the Government of India placed firm orders of almost 26,000 treatment courses of the new child-friendly pediatric formulations through the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility (GDF) for use in five pilot states - Kerala, Maharashtra, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim. This procurement has been made possible under Global Fund financing, using savings generated from the GDF second-line drug price reductions over the last two years.

This has the potential for the largest scale-up of TB care to children with the new TB medicine formulations. The Stop TB Partnership's Global Drug Facility will continue to support India in scaling up access to new pediatric fixed-dose combinations in alignment with the policies of the India TB program. The fixed-dose combinations come in a dissolvable, flavored form, and tablets no longer need to be crushed. The required number of pediatric tablets can be dissolved in water.

"The Government of India is committed to putting an end to TB in the country, given that TB is one of the biggest public health challenges we are facing today. The Government has shifted from intermittent regimen to daily regimen using FDCs for adults as well as paediatric TB patients and scaled up CBNAAT services to 628 sites across the country for rapid diagnosis of TB and DR-TB. Ensuring that children affected by TB, benefit from the most recent developments of these child friendly formulations, is an important step by the government towards addressing the needs of all those affected by TB. The availability of correctly dosed child friendly medications will vastly improve treatment outcomes for children and we hope to work with all stakeholders in ensuring its continued scale-up," said Mr. C. K. Mishra, Secretary of Health, Government of India.

USAID is working with the Government of India to support new pediatric formulations through the Stop TB Partnership's Global Drug Facility to ensure all children receive appropriate TB treatment. It is part of a larger India and U.S. Government initiative to scale-up TB care and treatment for all. "India and the U.S. are natural partners with a long history of collaboration on TB prevention, treatment, research and cure." stated Ambassador Richard Verma, U.S. Ambassador to India.

TB - a disease closely related to poverty that spreads quickly in cramped living conditions with poor sanitation such as slums - is a major health problem in India, and the country accounts for one in three TB deaths globally.

This preventable and treatable disease, puts a strain on Indian health care systems, and continues to trap millions of Indians in an enduring cycle of poverty. Children miss school due to being ill with TB, and very often, their parents who are also sick with TB cannot work, depriving their families of much-needed income.

"This is a great step made by the Indian government that will benefit children both within and far beyond India. Purchase volumes from India, combined with those of 27 smaller countries already purchasing via GDF, allow GDF’s suppliers to expand their scale of production and offer medicines at low prices and with optimal delivery terms. India is changing the landscape of pediatric TB with Indian manufacturers developing and producing these medicines and with the global leadership of the India TB Program as an early adopter of these medicines," said Dr Brenda Waning, Chief of the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility.