MSF.org posted this on March 23, very timely for World Tuberculosis Day today: TB: Ready, set, slow down: New and promising DR-TB drugs are grabbing headlines but not reaching patients. Excerpt:
The buzz started well before the first new TB drug in half a century was approved for use on the last day of 2012: two forthcoming new TB medicines would radically improve cure and survival rates for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), displacing the toxic and grueling multi-year treatments that, even with only a 50% chance of cure, were the only options available.
As an organisation struggling to treat people with DR-TB in more than 20 countries with today’s inadequate tools, MSF shared this excitement.
The reality has not yet matched our hopes. In the intervening two years, companies and researchers have received awards, accolades and reams of media coverage for introducing two new drugs to tackle TB, but meanwhile patients are largely stuck facing the same dismal outcomes they have for decades. To date, fewer than 1,000 people worldwide have been able to access the two new TB drugs -- bedaquiline (made by Janssen/Johnson & Johnson) and delamanid (made by Otsuka) – just a fraction of those who desperately need them.
As the world takes stock of the fight against TB on World TB Day in 2015, two facts should be front and center: that the glacial rollout of these new drugs has cost too many lives already; and that our frustration must be galvanized into action.
To save a significant number of lives and reduce suffering exponentially, greatly intensified efforts are needed across the regulatory, scientific, medical, commercial, financial and political arenas. For an analysis of what’s behind the slow progress in accessing the new TB drugs, and what can be done to accelerate uptake, read our short issue brief.