Drug-resistant TB patients’ hopes raised
Tuberculosis patients with limited treatment options will find hope in a medicine for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), which is now in the Philippines.
Bedaquiline, the new TB antibiotic, is now available in the country via a donation program through pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
According to the Department of Health and its donors, 75 patients will initially benefit from the program, which will be available in 10 hospitals nationwide, including the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City and the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City.
Antimicrobial resistance, specifically that seen in MDR-TB, is one of the world’s most serious public health threats.
“Antimicrobial resistance, a recognized global threat, is a clear and present danger, especially in TB. Incomplete or irregular treatments may lead to MDR-TB or even death. And while the costs of first-line TB medications have gone down over the years, the drugs for MDR-TB remain relatively expensive with painful and almost intolerable side effects,” Health Secretary Janette Garin said in her speech during the launch of the anti-TB medicine yesterday at Dusit Thani hotel.
In the Philippines, the public health burden is particularly prevalent, with an estimated 11,000 Filipinos infected with MDR-TB.
“The Philippines is one of the seven among the 22 high-burdened countries that have achieved its 2015 Millennium Development Goal in fighting TB. There has been a marked decline in TB burden in the country since the launching of the Directly Observed Treatment Short-Course strategy in 1996, and this partnership in the fight against MDR-TB will intensify our efforts in our battle against TB,” Garin said.