The World Health Organization (WHO) has added four anti-tuberculosis medicines to its list of pre-qualified products.
Manufactured by the generic producer MacLeods of India, these medicines would increase the choice of quality products available to procurement agencies to tackle the disease, a statement issued by WHO said in Accra.
It said one of the products, Cycloserine, was particularly important because it was a second-line medicine, necessary to treat tuberculosis that was resistant to standard treatment.
WHO said Cycloserine was the first such product to be included in the list.
There is also a fixed-dose combination - ethambutol + isoniazid - which is the first product combining these two basic medicines to be pre-qualified. The other two medicines are Ethambutol and Pyrazinamide.
The four medicines are the first TB products in two years to be added to the list of pre-qualified medicines.
Their addition to the list reflects considerable quality improvement made by manufacturers, and an increasing interest in being part of the pre-qualification programme.
"The addition of these four medicines will reinforce efforts to scale up access to anti-tuberculosis medicines in high-burden areas and in countries which may have only limited capacity to control and monitor pharmaceuticals."
WHO said product assessment reports on the quality and bio-equivalence of these newly pre-qualified products and manufacturing site inspection findings would soon also be published.
It said these procedures made the WHO pre-qualification process the most transparent of all similar quality assurance programmes to date.
Recent figures released by WHO put the number of TB cases in 2005 at 8.787 million. An estimated 1.6 million people died of the disease in 2005, with 195,000 of them people living with HIV.