Published On: Sat, Jan 5th, 2013

Doctors without Borders calls for the rapid availability of bedaquiline in countries with high levels of MDR-TB



In a follow-up to a story earlier this week, the international medical humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is calling on the rapid registration of “Sirturo”, or bedaquiline, in countries with high drug-resistant TB burden, according to an MSF press release.

The Janssen Therapeutics drug received US Food and Drug Administration approval Monday.

Currently, treating multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) requires a two-year course of up to 20 different pills that must be ingested every day, combined with roughly eight months of daily injections. The side effects are bad and the cure rate hovers around 50 percent only.

“The first new drug to treat TB in 50 years is an immense milestone,” said Dr. Manica Balasegaram, executive director of the MSF Access Campaign. “The fact that the drug is active against drug-resistant forms of the disease makes it a potential game changer.”

“Ministries of health and drug regulators need to work together to make sure people with MDR-TB benefit from this important medical advance as soon as possible,” said Dr. Balasegaram. “The onus is on all of us to use bedaquiline to devise new treatment regimens for drug-resistant TB that are shorter, more tolerable for patients, and more effective. With better treatment on the way, there should be all the more incentive to scale up our efforts to treat MDR-TB today.”

In 2011, there were 310,000 new cases of MDR-TB reported globally, according to Doctors without Borders. However, less than one-fifth are receiving treatment for this serious infection.

“Scale-up of global DR-TB treatment has remained shockingly low, to a large degree because the current treatment regimen is so complex and costly for health programs and difficult to tolerate for patients,” said Dr Francis Varaine, leader of MSF’s TB Working Group. “With simpler, shorter and more effective treatment regimens, we will be able to scale-up treatment and cure more people with DR-TB.”

Sirturo (bedaquiline) is the first drug specifically for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, and the first new type of TB drug in more than four decades.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates more than two million people will develop MDR-TB between 2011 and 2015.


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- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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