U.S Finds New Way to Treat TB

| November 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

Research carried out by the United States has found an alternative way to treat tuberculosis with fewer tablets, which scientists believe could lead to better adherence levels and less risk of drug resistance.

A press release from US Embassy stated that the results of the study, announced on October 23 by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the novel drug combination taken for six months duration made it easier for patients to complete their course of treatment.

It further said with approximately eight million new cases worldwide and 1.3 million deaths each year, TB continued to pose a massive threat to global health. In Botswana, it stated that there were 8 200 new cases of the disease in 2012.

However, most cases of TB were curable if treated effectively and promptly. The standard treatment was four drugs daily for two months followed by two drugs daily for four months and around 360 tablets over a six-month period.

The RIFAQUIN trial results showed that a combination of the drugs rifapentine and moxifloxacin could reduce the number of tablets in a course of treatment from 360 to 140 over the same six-month period. The findings were published on October 23 in the New England Journal of Medicine, it states.

“The burden of taking tablets is huge for TB patients. Consequently, even with the best will in the world, patients sometimes stop their treatment once they begin to feel better. Over a long period of time this has led to more drug resistant strains,” says Dr. James Shepherd, lead investigator for the trial in Botswana.

The release further said less tablets meant there was a higher chance of the patient completing their treatment. It also makes it easier for clinics to supervise treatment.

“This is particularly important for countries like Botswana, where clinics are very busy, and where it is not uncommon for patients to travel many miles to receive each treatment,” it states.

The trial was carried out in Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and was led by St. George’s, University of London together with the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit at UCL. A total of 827 people took part in the trial, 56 of whom were from Botswana.

The results showed 97 per cent of patients taking the six month rifapentine and moxifloxacin combination were cured, which was as good as the standard treatment. Study participants were assessed 12 months after they had finished their treatment.

The release also states that the drug combination could also be used in patients with drug resistant strains because it does not contain isoniazid, the drug that patients are most likely to be resistant to.

The trial was also designed to test whether the length of treatment could be reduced from six months to four months and the results showed that the combination of rifapentine and moxifloxacin after the first two months of treatment does not allow shortening of treatment from six to four months. Patients still need to take their treatment for six months, but the new once-weekly drug combination could make that easier.

RIFAQUIN is a unique TB trial, as it investigated both shortening and simplifying treatment, and used higher doses of rifapentine than other studies that have looked at shortening TB treatment using fluroquinolones.

The researchers point out that a number of considerations need further investigation before health services could prescribe the once-weekly treatment combination. These include the cost effectiveness of the new regimen, and more data on the effectiveness of the proposed regimen in HIV-positive patients, who are particularly at risk for TB.

It says the trial was the first ever clinical trial of treatment in Botswana. The overwhelming majority of trial participants here said they would prefer to take a once weekly dosing rather than daily or twice weekly.

Source : US Embassy

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: General

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