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The Union to launch international trial of 9-month MDR-TB treatment regimen

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World TB Day, 24 March 2010

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In this year 2010, which has been declared as Year of the Lung, it is indeed a much-awaited welcome news that International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) is to launch an International trial of 9-month MDR-TB treatment regimen. The need for accessible, effective multidrug-resistant tuberculosis treatment is urgent, as the incidence of MDR-TB continues to rise, and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) has been reported in 57 countries. In response, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) is launching a trial of a 9-month treatment regimen that has demonstrated cure rates exceeding 80% in a pilot programme.


While tuberculosis has been curable for more than 60 years, drug-resistant strains are far more difficult and costly to treat. Currently used treatment regimens can take up to two years to complete, placing a heavy burden on both patients and health systems.

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The Union's evaluation of a standardised treatment regimen of anti-tuberculosis drugs for patients with multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis or STREAM will seek to determine whether a regimen developed and implemented by the Damien Foundation and the Institute of Tropical Medicine, and used with notable success in Bangladesh, can be used in different settings with comparable results.

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"Obviously, this regimen represents a significant difference in time and resources for all involved", says Dr Nils E Billo, Executive Director of The Union. "But any treatment strategy must be carefully evaluated to ensure the most effective and feasible approaches are implemented, particularly in low-income settings where MDR-TB is most prevalent."

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Bobby Ramakant is a World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General's WNTD Awardee for the year 2008, and writes extensively on health and development for Citizen News Service (CNS). Website: www.citizen-news.org

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