Arizona County Health Departments hit by shortage of drug used to test for Tuberculosis

April 08, 2013

Some Arizona County Health Departments are dealing with the national shortage of a common drug used to test patients for Tuberculosis. 

TB testing with Tubersol, a solution that is shot under the skin, will be temporarily suspended by the Pima and Yuma County Health Departments until supplies are available again.   

The State Department of Health Services’ Carla Chee said other Arizona counties are rationing routine TB tests using Tubersol. 

That’s so the drug can be used to screen health care, prison and day care workers who are more susceptible to the spread of the lung disease. 

“It’s not a cause for concern. The county health departments are really doing a proactive job right now with evaluating their supply and prioritizing skin testing for people that may be symptomatic and suggestive of TB," Chee said.

Chee said taking blood and other alternative testing methods to Tubersol are more expensive. She said the shortage comes at a time when Arizona has seen a sharp decrease in TB; with 211 cases statewide last year, that’s down 17 percent from 2011.