South Africa today replaced an injectable tuberculosis drug with a new oral medicine called Bedaquiline in the standard multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) treatment regimens for adolescents and adults.
As the first country in the world to do so, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) welcomed South Africa’s health department’s decision as a positive step aimed at making MDR-TB treatment more tolerable, and reducing the impact of side effects caused by the injectable agents.
MSF’s Dr. Anja Reuter, a DR-TB doctor in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape, said the standard treatment for MDR-TB was currently effective only 50 percent of the time, and included a painful injectable antibiotic known to cause terrible toxic side effects, including kidney failure and hearing loss.
“Experience with bedaquiline in treating drug-resistant TB – mainly from South Africa – demonstrates improved clinical outcomes in people living with MDR-TB, and initial evidence shows that it can be safely and effectively used in place of the toxic injectable,” Reuter said.
MSF also urged other countries and officials responsible for World Health Organisation guidance on the use of DR-TB medicines to follow South Africa’s example and commit to replacing the toxic injectable drug and ensuring expanded global access to effective new medicines, including bedaquiline.
– African News Agency (ANA)
ALSO READ: TB remains the No 1 killer in South Africa