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TB Drug Shortages Put U.S. Patients in Peril, Study Finds
Date:1/18/2013

THURSDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Shortages of key tuberculosis drugs are posing a real hazard to patients throughout the United States, a new report finds.

The shortages are making it even more difficult to treat what's known as multidrug-resistant forms of the infectious respiratory illness, the researchers said. These patients often require so-called "second-line drugs" when the medication of choice fails.

For example, the new report cites the 2011 case of a father and his infant child who had each contracted TB. "Despite intensive efforts by public health personnel to obtain the two drugs [needed], the initiation of treatment was delayed by eight days for both patients, prolonging the father's infectious period and thereby increasing the risk for transmission to the community," wrote a team led by Dr. Barbara Seaworth of the University of Texas Health Science Center.

Matters were even worse for the baby, who had also contracted a form of meningitis and "was placed in a particularly dangerous situation," the researchers noted.

"TB meningitis in young children is a medical emergency, and delays in treatment lead to worse outcomes, such as severe [mental] impairment, epilepsy and death," according to the report published in the Jan. 18 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a journal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In this case, both the father and baby did recover fully, but not every case involving drug shortages may turn out so well, the experts said.

In the new study, the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association surveyed TB programs across the United States and found that 81 percent of those that reported having patients with multidrug-resistant TB also said they had problems obtaining the medicines needed to treat these patients.

All of the programs that reported difficulties in obtaining drugs to treat multidrug-resistant TB listed nat
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