In early 2006, CGD convened a working group–led by Ruth Levine- to address a pervasive problem in global health: poor forecasting of expected demand for key products. Long-term strategic demand forecasts are needed in order for manufacturers to make capacity investments, make more accurate long term plans for manufacturing and distribution, and for donors to conduct better multi-year program planning. Medium-term demand forecasts are equally essential. When such forecasts are off, manufacturers have to dispose of unsold drugs; donors and ministries of health may face uncertain prices and availability of essential products; and –most importantly- communities and individuals can face the terrible prospect of shortages, incomplete treatments and the emergence of drug resistance. The Wall Street Journal’s recent coverage of shortages of pediatric tuberculosis (TB) treatments demonstrates the weaknesses –or perhaps absence- of adequate demand forecasting in India’s anti-TB programs.
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