When purchasing a medicine from the shelf of a local pharmacy, it’s easy to forget the many miles traveled and challenges overcome to make it available to consumers. This is especially true for tuberculosis medicines, which come from a limited number of manufactures and often have short shelf-lives. Unless countries have accurate information on the number of patients who need treatment at any given time, medicines can expire, with great financial cost, or become stocked out, with great cost to the health of patients.
At the 44th Union World Conference on Lung Health, the Global Drug Facility collaborated with the USAID-funded, MSH-led Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) program to address the ways in which countries can ensure patients have access to quality medicines when they are needed.
The full day workshop, titled “Global Drug Facility (GDF): Universal Access to Internationally Quality Assured (IQA) TB Commodities” centered on the tools and techniques National Tuberculosis Programs can use to ensure they maintain adequate stocks of TB medicines. Representatives from the GDF described early experiences from a pilot project titled Early Stock-out Warning System, an approach designed to help countries extract and analyze data to avoid stock outs or expiry of medicines.
The presentation paved the way for the launch of a new SIAPS tool called QuanTB. QuanTB, a free, downloadable tool, is designed to simplify the way in which TB staff forecast and quantify the number of medicines needed. SIAPS staff provided a demonstration of the tool, which allows users to modify items such as treatment regimens, buffer stock, and lead time in order to reflect the local environment.
Through tools such as QuanTB, and approaches like the GDF’s early warning system, the workshop provided participants with concrete ideas about how to guarantee shelves are stocked with quality medicines when patients seek treatment.
Emily Delmotte (@edelmott) is a technical associate in the Center for Pharmaceutical Management at MSH.