The World Health Organization issued new guidelines for the treatment of multi drug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis on Wednesday, prioritizing for the first time an all-oral treatment regimen. The new treatment recommends replacing the painful injectable drugs that patients had to endure under previous treatment guidelines with a shorter course of oral bedaquiline – one of only three new drugs approved for treatment of TB within the last half century.
The update was announced in a rapid communication released by WHO after an independent panel reviewed new evidence on treating multi-drug resistant (MDR) and rifampicin-resistant (RR) TB in November. Compelling data from the South African TB programme, collected in collaboration with research and technical partners such as The Union, showed that replacing injectable drugs with oral bedaquiline resulted in significantly better treatment outcomes for patients with MDR/RR-TB. Not only that, but more patients also completed the full 9-month treatment when provided all-oral regimen.
“The Union supports the move towards shorter all oral treatment regimens with better outcomes, lower toxicity and reduced side effects for people with drug-resistant TB,” said Grania Bridge, director of the Department of TB at The Union said in a press release. “As new all-oral regimens are developed, there is a clear need for more and better evidence to support their implementation around the world.”