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Can anti-tuberculosis drugs be continued during pregnancy?

Thursday, 04 September 2008
Answered by: Dr. Chandra M. Gulhati
Editor,
MIMS,
New Delhi
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Q. My 21 years old wife is suffering from tuberculosis which, was diagnosed 9 months back and she is taking Myrin P on doctors’ advice. After 2 months, the doctor changed the medicine and asked her to take Myrin (Ethambutol HCI, Isoniazid and Rifampicin), which she is taking till date. She is pregnant now.Can she continue with these medicines or stop it till delivery?

A.  It is true that some drugs used in the treatment of tuberculosis need to be avoided during pregnancy. However it is much worse to stop treatment since tuberculosis will not only continue to advance but affect the baby apart from causing TB germs to become resistant. Please continue treatment with at least three drugs i.e. Rifampicin, INH and Ethambutol till the disease is finally cured. Please also make sure that a good brand is selected since there are scores, sometimes hundreds, of brands of the same medicine. Against about 300 pharmaceutical manufacturers in western countries like Britain, there are over 20,000 producers in India that market more than 40,000 brands. Most manufacturers do not have quality-testing laboratories. Hence selection of brands is important. Many companies give incentives to prescribers to patronise their products. Patients should check the reputation of manufacturers before consuming medicines.

A.  It is true that some drugs used in the treatment of tuberculosis need to be avoided during pregnancy. However it is much worse to stop treatment since tuberculosis will not only continue to advance but affect the baby apart from causing TB germs to become resistant. Please continue treatment with at least three drugs i.e. Rifampicin, INH and Ethambutol till the disease is finally cured. Please also make sure that a good brand is selected since there are scores, sometimes hundreds, of brands of the same medicine. Against about 300 pharmaceutical manufacturers in western countries like Britain, there are over 20,000 producers in India that market more than 40,000 brands. Most manufacturers do not have quality-testing laboratories. Hence selection of brands is important. Many companies give incentives to prescribers to patronise their products. Patients should check the reputation of manufacturers before consuming medicines.

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