Tuberculosis treatment in the private healthcare sector in India: An analysis of recent trends and volumes using drug sales data

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Abstract

Background: There is a pressing need for systematic approaches for monitoring how much TB treatment is ongoing in the private sector in India: both to cast light on the true scale of the problem, and to help monitor the progress of interventions currently being planned to address this problem. Methods: We used commercially available data on the sales of rifampicin-containing drugs in the private sector, adjusted for data coverage and indication of use. We examined temporal, statewise trends in volumes (patient-months) of TB treatment from 2013 to 2016. We additionally analysed the proportion of drugs that were sold in combination packaging (designed to simplify TB treatment), or as loose pills. Results: Drug sales suggest a steady trend of TB treatment dispensed by the private sector, from 18.4 million patient-months (95% CI 17.3-20.5) in 2013 to 16.8 patient-months (95% CI 15.5-19.0) in 2016. Overall, seven of 29 states in India accounted for more than 70% of national-level TB treatment volumes, including Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar. The overwhelming majority of TB treatment was dispensed not as loose pills, but in combination packaging with other TB drugs, accounting for over 96% of private sector TB treatment in 2017. Conclusions: Our findings suggest consistent levels of TB treatment in the private sector over the past 4 years, while highlighting specific states that should be prioritized for intervention. Drug sales data can be helpful for monitoring a system as large, disorganised and opaque as India's private sector.

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Arinaminpathy, N., Batra, D., Maheshwari, N., Swaroop, K., Sharma, L., Sachdeva, K. S., … Dewan, P. (2019). Tuberculosis treatment in the private healthcare sector in India: An analysis of recent trends and volumes using drug sales data. BMC Infectious Diseases, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12879-019-4169-y

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