Sunday November 17, 2019

WHO Claims, Novel Oral Treatment More Effective in Fighting Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis

The WHO says it is hopeful the new oral treatment program it is launching will be more effective in controlling the spread of the particularly virulent form of tuberculosis. 

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TB
A tuberculosis patient holds medicines at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Government Hospital at Ram Nagar in Varanasi, India, March 13, 2018. VOA

Tuberculosis has plagued humans for thousands of years and continues to do so. In advance of this year’s World TB Day, March 24, the World Health Organization is issuing a call to action to eradicate the disease by 2030.

As part of these efforts, the WHO is launching an oral drug regimen it says can more effectively treat people with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killing nearly 4,500 people a day and infecting 10 million people a year.

TB
As part of these efforts, the WHO is launching an oral drug regimen it says can more effectively treat people with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. VOA

Despite the grim statistics, much progress has been made in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of the disease. The WHO says 54 million lives have been saved since 2000. But the WHO also warns the gains risk being lost with the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB or MDR-TB.

The current treatment for MDR-TB involves a two-year treatment course of painful injections, which provoke many bad side effects.

The WHO says it is hopeful the new oral treatment program it is launching will be more effective in controlling the spread of the particularly virulent form of tuberculosis.

The director of the WHO’s Global TB Program, Tereza Kasaeva, told VOA the new oral drug treatment the WHO is recommending has far fewer adverse side effects.

“Of course, it will be definitely much, much easier and there will not be a need for regular frequent visits of the physicians or health workers for making these injections. No doubt, as we see from the data, the effectiveness, the treatment success will be definitely much, much higher,” Kasaeva said.

Doctor
The director of the WHO’s Global TB Program, Tereza Kasaeva, told VOA the new oral drug treatment the WHO is recommending has far fewer adverse side effects.
VOA

The South African government has announced it plans to adopt the injection-free treatment. Kasaeva said the cost of the oral treatment is around $2,000, which is largely unaffordable for low-income countries.

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She said South Africa is engaging in talks with pharmaceutical companies to drop the price to $400.

The WHO says South Africa is one of the 20 countries most affected by MDR-TB. Others include Russia, China, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Vietnam. (VOA)

Next Story

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)