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Tuberculosis

17 August 2011

Shortage of resistant TB meds looms

While countries are rolling out new tests that will enable them to diagnose more patients with drug-resistant TB, a shortage of the drugs to treat these patients is likely.

While countries are rolling out new tests that will enable them to diagnose more patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), a worldwide shortage of the drugs to treat these patients is likely, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warns.

Speaking at a recent meeting co-hosted by South African Aids lobby group, the Treatment Action Campaign, human rights organisation SECTION27 and MSF, Ndjeka said that national use of the GeneXpert machine could double the number of MDR-TB cases diagnosed.

But while more patients may get diagnosed, their access to treatment remains precarious as a limited number of approved drug producers keep many DR-TB prices high and supply uncertain, according to Dr Eric Goemaere, MSF's senior regional adviser.

Higher prices

The country cures about 42% of MDR-TB patients nationally, according to Ndjeka, but the national success rate masks provincial cure rates as low as 10%.

 

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