Madhukar Pai

Tuberculosis is not an easy disease to treat. The duration of treatment is months. Multiple antibiotics are needed to prevent drug resistance, and side-effects are common. Some drugs are expensive. We need treatment that is shorter, simpler, less toxic, and affordable.

Why has there been no new drug in over 40 years? Lack of industry interest is one reason. TB mainly affects poor people in the developing countries, and for pharmaceutical companies this is not a profitable market. Also, unlike HIV and AIDS, where activists, patients and civil society have demanded better and more affordable drugs, there has been little activism for TB patients.

But breakthroughs are coming, thanks to partnerships such as the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance), pharma companies, academics, the Stop TB Partnership, and donors such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Read the full article in The Hindu

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October 21, 2012