TB Drugs Stolen and Misused

04.05.2017

This case study is related to:

Product issues

TB medicine financed by the Global Fund was stolen from the national supply chain and resold illicitly on informal street markets. The TB medicine, a strong antibiotic, was being sold as a ‘cure-all’ for many different ailments. Not only did this represent a financial loss for the Global Fund but it also posed a real public health threat as misuse of TB medicines could increase TB multidrug resistance which is difficult to treat.

Alerted by the Secretariat, an OIG investigation confirmed that large quantities of Global Fund financed TB medicine was being resold in markets across the country. Consumers were buying the antibiotics outside of a prescribed medical treatment for purposes other than treating TB. For example, the drugs were being promoted as treatment for common ailments such as headaches or stomach pains and even as stimulants or aphrodisiacs.

The OIG investigation concluded that the central medical store, in charge of the national supply chain, was a major source for the illicit TB medicine found on markets. The central medical store was in charge of receiving, warehousing and delivering to health facilities across the country including medicine funded by the Global Fund. The OIG reviewed the drug stock records and found that the central medical store was not able to account for large quantities.

Lack of controls allowed the theft to take place as the central medical store could not adequately account for and safeguard the TB medicines. In order to prevent reoccurrence in the future, the OIG, together with the Global Fund Secretariat put in place specific risk mitigating actions. These actions targeted the supply and the demand including stronger controls at the central medical store and a public health communications campaign on the dangers of taking unprescribed medicine. These measures helped reduce significantly the availability of TB medicine in local markets across the country.

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