India has the highest number of tuberculosis (TB) patients in the world. Our country accounts for 23% of global TB cases and deaths. An estimated 2.2 million people suffer from TB in India with over 70,000 being multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB patients. In an effort to tackle the growing problem of resistant tuberculosis, recently the government of India approved a new drug called Bedaquiline to treat the extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR) which defies cure.
So, How Does The New Drug Work?
The drug has a novel mechanism of action by which it inhibits a critical enzyme – ATP synthase, required for protein synthesis of bacteria that cause TB. The drug also has the ability to rapidly kill TB bacteria, thereby eliminating them from the patient’s sputum to make him non-infectious. Therefore, this drug has a huge potential and can have a huge positive impact on controlling the spread of TB in the community.
How Different Is The Drug From Pre-existing Ones?
The drug will only be given to MDR- TB patients with resistance to either all fluoroquinolone (antibiotics for respiratory and urinary tract infections)or all second line injectables.
Experts suggest that Bedaquiline is perhaps the first in decades to have a potential to dramatically improve multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) treatment outcomes, and reduce the number of people who die from the disease.
Where Will The Government Make This Drug Available?
India added this first new drug in 50 years to its existing regimen of free medications prescribed under its public health program. In the first phase, the drug will be made available in 6 major public hospitals in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Guwahati and Ahmedabad.