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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid