New medicine shows reduction in TB mortality cases

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Cape Town – There has been a reduction in TB mortality cases from drug resistant Tuberculosis (DR – TB) in South Africa through the use of the latest medicine, according to data from the Department of Health.

The new medicine for the treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis, called Bedaquiline, became available in 2013.

The National Department of Health (DOH) was granted permission by the Medicine Control Council (MCC) to provide Bedaquiline to drug resistant TB patients who had limited treatment options, through the Bedaquiline Clinical Access Program (BCAP).

“Two hundred patients who were either pre-XDR TB or had XDR TB, received the medicine under controlled conditions,” the DOH said in a statement.

“Of the 200 patients between March 2013 and March 2015, three quarters (146/200) had a favourable outcome (cure and treatment completion). Twenty five patients (12.5%) died, which was much lower than the 50% for patients not receiving Bedaquiline.”

The DOH also found that patients on a Bedaquiline regimen reported far fewer adverse events.

According to the Department, following registration of Bedaquiline by the Medicine Control Council (MCC) now called South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), the National TB Programme (NTP) made the medication available more widely.

About 15,000 Rifampicin Resistant Tuberculosis (RR-TB) patients have either received or are currently receiving Bedaquiline under programmatic conditions, which is approximately two-thirds of the global uptake of Bedaquiline. Rifampicin Resistant Tuberculosis is a severe form of TB where the patients have germs that are resistant to Rifampicin, which is the strongest TB medicine.

South Africa has a large number of people with drug resistant tuberculosis, many of whom were diagnosed since the expanded use of the latest diagnostic technology – GeneXpert in 2011. Treating patients with drug resistant tuberculosis has been difficult with old medicines used which had many negative side effects and over long periods – often up to 24 months.

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