Rational drug use is the process of correct diagnosis followed by correct prescribing of, labelling of, dispensing of, and ensuring that the patient adheres to, recommended treatment regimens. Anti-TB drug use by prescribers and patients is described in section 2. An important area of drug use is that of prescribing and dispensing the right drugs to the patient, and good prescribing and dispensing practices should not be overlooked. Fixed-dose combinations promote good practices and can contribute to fewer prescribing and dispensing errors because there are fewer tablets to handle at one time.
Some TB control programmes have instituted the use of patient kits, where all drugs for the intensive phase are placed in a box labelled with the patient's name. This assures the availability of drugs for that patient during this important phase of treatment. Fixed-dose combinations facilitate the preparation of patient kits. However, the use of patient kits does not replace DOT. Prescriber and patient compliance to drug regimens is a key factor in treatment success, and NTP managers must be sure that drug use practices are in accordance with the adopted standard treatment guidelines. Selected key indicators (e.g. percentage of new smear-positive patients with pulmonary TB who were prescribed correct drugs in correct dosages with correct duration, based on the standard treatment guidelines) should be developed and included in the TB programme monitoring system.