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Concern over shortage of leprosy drugs in the private sector

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Syllabus: Issues related to development and management of the social sector related to Health, leprosy etc



  • Clofazimine, a key drug for the treatment of leprosy, which had been in short supply in the Indian market for several months, is now “not available.
  • The medicine is available in the government sector[government hospitals and primary health centres. It is in the private sector that the shortage is being felt.



  • Clofazimine is one of the three essential drugs in the MultiDrug Treatment of Multibacillary Leprosy (MBMDT) cases, along with Rifampicin and Dapsone.
  • It is needed not just for the therapy/cure of leprosy, but also for controlling acute exacerbations of this disease.
  • Clofazimine has shown activity against MultiDrug Resistance Tuberculosis and has been recommended by the WHO to treat drug resistance.
  • Under the NLEP (National Leprosy EradicationProgramme), the government has been ensuring a steady supply of monthly blister packs for 12 months to all the multibacillary leprosy cases containing these three drugs.



●      Leprosy is also known as Hansen’s Disease.

●      Leprosy is a chronic, progressive bacterial infection caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium Leprae, which is an acid-fast rod-shaped bacillus.

●      Leprosy is one of the oldest diseases in recorded history, afflicting humanity since time immemorial. A written account of Leprosy dates as far back as 600 B.C.

●      According to the World Health Organization (WHO), leprosy is endemic in several States and Union Territories of India, with an annual case detection rate of 4.56 per 10,000 population.

●      The prevalence rate of leprosy is 0.4 per 10,000 population in the country

●      Areas of Infection: Skin, Peripheral nerves, Upper respiratory tract and Lining of the nose.

●      Mode of Transmission: Mainly by breathing airborne droplets from the affected individuals. It can be contacted at any age.

●      Symptoms: Red patches on the skin, skin lesions, numbness in arms, hands, and legs, ulcers on the soles of feet, muscle Weakness and excessive weight loss.

●      It usually takes about 3-5 years for symptoms to appear after coming into contact with Leprosy-causing bacteria.

●      The long incubation period makes it difficult for doctors to determine when and where the person got infected.

●      If not treated on time, Leprosy can lead to significant disability, disfigurement, permanent nerve damage in arms and legs and even loss of sensation in the body.

●      Cure: Leprosy is curable with the combination of drugs known as Multi-Drug Therapy (MDT).



Practice Questions:

Q. Which of the following drug is/are used for the treatment of Leprosy:

  1. Clofazimine
  2. Dapsone
  3. Isoniazid
  4. Rifampicin

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  • 1, 2 and 4 only
  • 1 only
  • 2, 3 and 4 only
  • 1, 2, 3 and 4

Ans: (d)


  • Clofazimine is one of the three essential drugs in the MultiDrug Treatment of Multibacillary Leprosy (MBMDT) cases, along with Rifampicin and Dapsone.
  • Isoniazid is an effective alternative to sulphone drugs in the treatment of lepromatous leprosy.

Source: The Hindu