News / Health

    Effectiveness of Four-Drug TB Treatment Confirmed

    An x-ray of the lungs of a TB patient
    An x-ray of the lungs of a TB patient
    Vidushi Sinha

    One of the biggest challenges in fighting tuberculosis comes from new drug-resistant strains of the disease.  And one of the main reason those strains have developed is that TB patients often don't take their standard, 14-pill, course of medication as instructed. Now, as Vidushi Sinha reports, a new study finds that a simpler approach - combining four TB drugs into one pill - is just as effective in treating this global killer.

    For about a decade now the World Health Organization has recommended treating tuberculosis by using a four-drug, fixed-dose combination of medication - which has the same amount of pharmaceutical ingredients as the 14 pills that have traditionally been used.

    But the logic of fewer pills - a simpler routine for sick patients - has not yet sunk in among many doctors.

    For a variety of reasons, health professionals treating TB have resisted prescribing fewer pills.

    But a new study in the high-TB-incidence areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America confirms that the four-drug combination of pills is just as effective as the 14-pill regimen.

    Dr. Christian Lienhardt conducted the the research in several countries comparing the new and old treatment regimens.

    "It is true everywhere in the world patients, don’t like to take too many pills and if you have to take 14 pills every day for 6 months - you have the choice for four, then I will prefer 4 and lot of people will prefer 4," said Dr. Lienhardt.

    But Lienhardt says the four-pill treatment has been resisted because many care providers intuitively doubt it would be as effective.

    "There is a type of a common sense and mainly among the health staff that when you take the older drugs that you know each one of them had a very, very good activity and when you combine maybe there is a way to lose that activity," he said. "That is a type of common sense that might unfortunately take place mainly among the care providers rather than the patients."

    Tuberculosis is an aggressive bacterial disease that attacks the lungs and spreads rapidly among people with weakened immune systems. It kills nearly two million people worldwide every year . Experts say it’s treatable if medication is taken as prescribed.

    In the classical treatment, TB patients are usually prescribed 12 to 20 pills daily depending on their weight. Having the combination drug would improve the chances that patients would finish taking their entire dose.

    In the 11-country study by Leinhardt and his colleagues, patients were divided into two groups.  One got the combination pills and the other took the same drugs in individual pills, clinical trial found the combination pills to be equally effective.

    "We need to really make this case very strongly that using these types of drugs is having the same efficacy as the normal drugs," said said Dr. Lienhardt. "But again it is a very good tool to avoid the emergence of drug resistance."

    More powerful medicines are needed for drug-resistant strains, and some are even hard to treat with any drugs.

    Dr. Lee Reichman has worked to control TB for 40 years.  

    "Multi-drug resistant TB and extensively drug resistant TB are failures of the system," said Dr. Reichman. 'TB is treatable and preventable.  And if we find TB properly and treat TB properly, a: they are cured, and b: they don't develop drug resistant TB, whether it be multi-drug or extensive drug."

    Researchers aim to popularize the four-drug fixed-dose combination pills among international public health officials, policy makers, and patient’s organizations as part of the continuing campaign to eradicate TB.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora