Super Drug Regime: Kills Deadly Tuberculosis

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Health Editor’s Note: Let’s hope this does not cost an arm and a leg….Carol

F.D.A. Approves New Treatment for Deadliest Strain of Tuberculosis

by Meilan Solly Smithsonian.com

Seventy-five percent of individuals who contract extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis die before receiving a diagnosis, Donald G. McNeil Jr. reports for the New York Times. Of those who live long enough to seek treatment—an arduous regimen requiring patients to undergo antibiotic injections and take up to 40 pills daily for as long as two years—just 34 percent are ultimately cured.

Still, a new approach developed by the nonprofit TB Alliance is poised to revolutionize treatment for the tens of thousands affected by the so-called XDR strain, as well as the more common multidrug-resistant variation. Instead of subjecting patients to a lengthy cycle of side effect-inducing medications, the BPaL regimen—shown to have a 90 percent success rate when tested on a trial group of 109 participants—cuts the number of drugs down to three: bedaquilinepretomanid and linezolid. Per Medical Xpress, the treatment involves five pills taken orally for a duration of six months.

Matthew Kavanagh, a health policy expert at Georgetown University, says that pretomanid, newly approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “could be a major breakthrough.” Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, he adds, “It shifts XDR-TB from most likely a death sentence to likely survivable with effective treatment.”

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