Source:Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)
By Faraja Mgwabati,
21 March 2012
TANZANIA has been named among three countries in the world to benefit from a clinical trial, the first of its kind to test a novel drug combination — in TB patients and those with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).
This announcement was made in Washington D.C on Monday by the TB Alliance. Tanzania joins South Africa and Brazil in a project that will be implemented in eight cities.
Currently, a patient suffering from TB must take a daily doze of drugs for six months, while those with MDR-TB must be put on a daily injection for the first six months and a dozen or more pills each day for 18 months or more. TB Alliance experts believe the novel regimen being tested could shorten the length of required treatment to as few as four months.
Acting Chief Medical Officer and Director of Preventive Services in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Dr Donald Mmbando said Tanzania was ready to work with the international partners in the trials. “We are waiting for an official communication from them about our nomination, we will be happy to work with them,” Dr Mmbando said when contacted for comments.
TB Alliance did not say when the trials would start but according to Mr Mmbando, it may take time because normally such developments go through World Health Organisation (WHO) approvals. He said Tanzania has 63,000 TB patients and doctors were dispensing a combination therapy introduced in 2006 whereby patients are treated for six months instead of one year.
Patients with MDR-TB receive medical treatment at Kibong’oto Health Centre. The drugs’ success rate has been between 80 and 85 per cent. According to the TB Alliance, the disease is a leading global killer, claiming 1.4 million lives annually while nearly nine million more contract it.
The current treatment is old and inadequate, and the disease is becoming increasingly resistant to available drugs. Today, 650,000 patients around the world suffer from MDR-TB and most are unable to access adequate treatment due to the complexity and high cost of treatment. Among the small numbers of people who do receive treatment, 1 in 3 will still not be cured.
“This novel TB drug regimen has the potential to unlock a new and more efficient approach to tackling TB. In essence, it’s a step toward erasing the distinction between TB and MDR-TB — and in the process, dramatically shortening, simplifying, and improving treatment,” said Mel Spigelman, President and CEO, the TB Alliance.
“The current TB treatment takes too long, and all around the world, patients needlessly suffer because today’s treatment is completely inadequate,” Francis George Apina, a TB/HIV advocate working with Network of Men Living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya was quoted as saying.
This Phase II trial builds on the TB Alliance’s two-week New Combination 1 trial, or NC-001, initiated in 2010, which was the first study to test novel TB drugs in combination. The newly launched trial, New Combination 2 (NC-002), advances the regimen of new TB drug candidates PA-824 and moxifloxacin in combination with pyrazinamide, an existing antibiotic commonly used in TB treatment.