The much-awaited new anti-tuberculosis (TB) drug for children and adolescents with extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) is set to be rolled out across the country within a month. As of now, only five states — Punjab, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Odisha and Kerala — and two Union Territories of Chandigarh, and Lakshadweep have been identified as initial sites for introduction of Delamanid only through conditional access. In India, about 1,000 children with extremely resistant form of the disease, including 80 children in Maharashtra, mainly in the age bracket of six-17 years, would avail the benefit of the expensive drug in addition to the existing drug regimen, officials said. Confirming the same, a Union health ministry official told TOI, “The new drug, Delamanid, was initially introduced in five states and two Union Territories. Now, we are planning to roll it out across the country.” KS Sachdeva, head of central TB Division in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), sent a letter to all states on February 5 and requested them to send their requirement of Delamanid based on the estimated patient load in the 6-17 age group, who cannot be administered Bedaquiline, another new anti-TB drug meant for adult patients with resistant tuberculosis.
Public health expert Nandakishore Deshmukh, chief medical officer (CMO) of State Tuberculosis Training and Demonstration Center (STDC) at Aundh Chest Hospital in Pune, said, “There are two new anti-TB drugs for resistance form of the disease. Bedaquiline is for patients above 18 years of age, while Delamanid is for patients in the age bracket of six-17 years.” Elaborating, Deshmukh said, “Currently, medical staff members involved in tuberculosis treatment and prevention are undergoing extensive training to understand Delamanid, including its indications, contraindication, side effects, and ways to handle them. The drug will immensely benefit children and improve treatment outcomes.” “We have already submitted the indent for Delamanid for patients in Maharashtra to the Union health ministry. The drug will only be given to patients with XDR-TB and drug sensitivity treatment (DST)-guided regimen,” a state health official said. City-based chest physician Mahavir Modi underlined the efficacy of Delamanid. “Delamanid is not available at private pharmacies. It is available only in government supply chain. I have prescribed the drug to two of my patients. One of them went to government hospital in Mumbai to get the drug and another approached Aundh Chest Hospital. The availability of drug will definitely improve survival rate among patients with extremely drug resistant form of the disease.” – TOI