FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2018

U.S. faces MDR-TB drug shortage

More than 80 percent of health departments that treat drug-resistant tuberculosis in the United States face difficulty in obtaining necessary treatment drugs, according to a survey released on Thursday.

The National Tuberculosis Controllers Association released the national survey of health departments on Thursday that found that difficulties obtaining the drugs could be attributed to shipping delays, nationwide shortages and a complex process for obtaining new drugs that are still in the testing phase, Reuters reports.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited possible solutions, including obtaining drugs from foreign manufacturers, stockpiling them and creating a faster drug approval process.

"These shortages interfere with our ability to successfully treat TB," Kenneth Castro, the director of the CDC's division of Tuberculosis Elimination, said, according to Reuters.

The survey of 26 health departments that treat multi-drug resistant TB found that 81 percent had trouble finding or paying for effective medicine in the previous five years. Twenty-one of the departments had trouble obtaining the second-line drugs needed to treat the cases.

The shortages and other access problems related to second-line TB drugs could promote the development of drug resistance.

The CDC said that because only 54 percent of the 61 health jurisdictions surveyed responded to the survey, the results might not accurately show the TB drug-shortage problem in general.

MDR-TB accounts for approximately 1.5 percent of all cases in the U.S., Reuters reports.