Monday January 20, 2020

New Tuberculosis Treatment for 150 Countries Including India and South Africa to Cost $1,040

BPaL is an oral treatment which promises a shorter, more convenient option to existing TB treatment options, which use a cocktail of antibiotic drugs

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Tuberculosis, Treatment, Countries
A tuberculosis patient receives treatment at the TB Hospital in Gauhati, India, March 24, 2012. VOA

A newly approved three-drug treatment for tuberculosis will be available in 150 countries including India and South Africa, priced at $1,040 for a complete regimen, more than twice the cost proposed in the past by advocacy groups for other treatments.

The United Nations-backed Stop TB Partnership said on Monday that BPaL would be obtainable in eligible countries through the Global Drug Facility (GDF), a global provider of TB medicines created in 2001 to negotiate lower prices for treatments.

Tuberculosis was responsible for 1.5 million deaths in 2018.

BPaL is an oral treatment which promises a shorter, more convenient option to existing TB treatment options, which use a cocktail of antibiotic drugs over a period of up to two years.

Tuberculosis, Treatment, Countries
The United Nations-backed Stop TB Partnership said on Monday that BPaL would be obtainable in eligible countries through the Global Drug Facility (GDF), a global provider. Pixabay

The new cocktail, which will treat extensively drug-resistant strains of the illness, consists of drug developer TB Alliance’s newly-approved medicine pretomanid, in combination with linezolid and Johnson & Johnson’s bedaquiline.

Pretomanid, which will be available at $364 per treatment course, is only the third new medicine for drug-resistant tuberculosis to be approved in about 40 years, after J&J’s bedaquiline and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co Ltd’s delamanid.

Criticism

Advocacy groups have long criticized the cost for bedaquiline and delamanid. Not-for-profit Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has waged a running battle in public with J&J over its $400 price tag for a six-month course for bedaquiline.

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MSF has argued that bedaquiline could be produced and sold at a profit for 25 cents per day, and that the price of treatments for drug-resistant TB should be no higher than $500 for a complete treatment course.

Leena Menghaney, the South-Asia head for MSF’s Access Campaign, said it was a cause of concern that pretomanid was priced just below the price of bedaquiline.

But Stop TB Partnership says costs of other regimens for extremely drug-resistant TB range from $2,000 to $8,000 — for courses of at least 20 months.

Drugmakers

Tuberculosis, Treatment, Countries
Tuberculosis was responsible for 1.5 million deaths in 2018. Pixabay

TB Alliance in April granted a license to U.S. drugmaker Mylan NV to manufacture and sell pretomanid as part of certain regimens in high-income markets, as well as a non-exclusive license for low-income and middle-income countries, where most tuberculosis cases occur.

Stop TB Partnership said it would start supplying the regimen following World Health Organization’s guidance on using the drug. Mylan, however, said it will also sell the drug directly to countries.

Prices in low-income countries would be in-line with the price offered through GDF, but would be decided on a case by case basis where the drug is not supplied through GDF, it said.

The drug will be available in bottles of 26 tablets, with a six-month treatment requiring seven bottles.

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India-based Macleods Pharmaceuticals Ltd has also been granted a non-exclusive license to make pretomanid as part of the BPaL regimen, TB Alliance said Monday.

The maker of generic drugs will market the treatment in about 140 countries with high tuberculosis rates. (VOA)

Next Story

Researchers Develop AI Tool To Detect Mental Health Issues

Tracking changes in clinical states is important to detect if there is a change that shows whether the condition has improved or worsened that would warrant the need for changing treatment

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AI
The USC Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab (SAIL), which has long applied artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to identify and classify video, audio and physiological data, partnered with researchers to analyse voice data from patients being treated for serious mental illnesses. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that can accurately detect changes in clinical states in voice data of patients with bipolar, schizophrenia and depressive disorders as accurately as attending doctors.

“Machine learning allowed us to illuminate the various clinically-meaningful dimensions of language use and vocal patterns of the patients over time and personalised at each individual level,” said Indian-origin researcher and study senior author Shri Narayanan from University of Southern California (USC) in the US.

The USC Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab (SAIL), which has long applied artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify and classify video, audio and physiological data, partnered with researchers to analyse voice data from patients being treated for serious mental illnesses.

For the results, the researchers used the ‘MyCoachConnect’ interactive voice and mobile tool, created and hosted on the Chorus platform to provide voice diaries related to their mental health states.

SAIL team then collaborated with researchers to apply artificial intelligence to listen to hundreds of voicemails using custom software to detect changes in patients’ clinical states. According to the study, the AI was able to match clinicians’ ratings of their patients.

Tracking changes in clinical states is important to detect if there is a change that shows whether the condition has improved or worsened that would warrant the need for changing treatment, the researchers said.

AI
Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that can accurately detect changes in clinical states in voice data of patients with bipolar, schizophrenia and depressive disorders as accurately as attending doctors. Pixabay

This project builds on SAIL’s body of work in behavioural machine intelligence to analyse psychotherapy sessions to detect empathy of addiction counselors-in-training in order to improve their chances of better outcomes, in addition to the Lab’s work analysing language for cognitive diagnoses and legal processes.

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“Our approach builds on that fundamental technique to hear what people are saying about using the modern AI. We hope this will help us better understand how our patients are doing and transform mental health care to be more personalised and proactive to what an individual needs,” said study lead author Armen Arevian. (IANS)