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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid