Private Pharmacies Can Help Control Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

February 14, 2017

Private Pharmacies Can Help Control Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is one of the top causes of death globally. In many of the countries most affected by this disease, drug sellers—also known as private pharmacies—are the first point of contact for people seeking health care. By some estimates, about 50 percent of TB patients’ first contact with the health system is from a private pharmacy.

Training pharmacy staff to identify clients who might have TB and referring them for testing and treatment can boost diagnoses. But in 17 of 18 countries with a high burden of TB, fewer than 10 percent of retail drug outlets have been engaged in such efforts, according to a Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice study co-authored by MSH’s Niranjan Konduri, published last month. Konduri is a principal technical advisor for the USAID-funded, MSH-led Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) project.

The role of private pharmacies in the fight against drug-resistant TB is the focus of Dr. Judy Stone’s most recent contribution to Forbes. Stone cites Niranjan’s research findings and highlights the importance of public-private partnerships, with examples from India, as one of the many interventions needed to combat this problem.

“Given the high stakes of drug resistance and treatment failure, it is imperative to have all parties—from the patient to the pharmacist or drug vendor to the pharmaceutical companies—understanding the stakes and working together. Engaging pharmaceutical companies and associations to better educate pharmacists, physicians and patients would be one good step in reducing this huge and complex problem.” 

– Dr. Judy Stone