The second stage of clinical trials to test shortened treatment regimes for drug-resistant TB to as short as six months, is expected to take place in 10 countries, including at four hospitals in South Africa.
This was in efforts to fight drug resistance which José Luis Castro – executive director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease – labelled a crisis. Speaking at the International TB Conference at the Durban ICC on Sunday, Castro called for this crisis to be confronted.
“Drug resistance is an indictment against us – a crisis that has arisen from our failure to ensure quality TB care everywhere,” he said. The Union’s senior vice president – Research and Development, I.D. Rusen, said stage two of the STREAM clinical trial would test two additional regimes which both included bedaquiline.
This was a newly approved drug for the treatment of drug-resistant TB. It could reduce or eliminate the risk of hearing loss, a side effect of the current 24-month regime. Clinical trial patients on the six-month regime to be tested would only receive injections for two months, instead of six on the current two-year treatment.
The second regime would be completely oral and last a period of nine months. This reduction in the injection period should help address the hearing loss problem.
On the current treatment, Castro said: “For hundreds of thousands of people who have been treated for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), only to lose their hearing because of the medicines… becoming deaf has forever changed their lives… People should not have to choose between being deaf and being cured of TB.”