UN health agency issues guidance on use of bedaquiline to treat multi-drug-resistant TB

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A patient being treated for tuberculosis (World Health Organization)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued "interim policy guidance" on the use of a new drug to treat the strain of tuberculosis that is resistant to medications.

The agency estimates that up to half a million new cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) occur worldwide each year.

WHO says current treatment regimens for MDR-TB present many challenges, including treatment lasting 20 months or more and requiring daily administration of drugs.

According to WHO, these drugs are more toxic, less effective and far more expensive than those used to treat drug-susceptible TB.

It also points out that less than half of all patients who start MDR-TB therapy are treated successfully and that is why there is considerable interest in the potential of bedaquiline.

The new TB drug, which for the first time in 40 years has a novel mechanism for action, was granted accelerated approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration in December 2012.

WHO says information about this new drug remains limited and more trials for safety and efficacy are needed.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’06″

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