ICMR aims to shorten multidrug resistant TB treatment from two years to six months

Though Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will take a few months to begin the trial, the modalities for the same are being worked out already. ICMR has chosen Mumbai as one of the key sites for its trial

: ICMR aims to shorten multidrug resistant TB treatment from two years to six months
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  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will start clinical trials to shorten multidrug resistance (MDR)-TB treatment.
  • ICMR aims to cut down the treatment period from current two years to six months.
  • It plans to include two new TB drugs – bedaquiline and delamanid – along with two existing antibiotics in trial
  • Mumbai will be one of the key sites for trial.

A few months for trial to begin

“Currently, MDR-TB patient has to undergo a treatment for two years. Through our clinical trials, we plan to shorten this period to six months,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, director-general of the ICMR.

She said it will take a few months to begin the trial as modalities for the same are being worked out.

“The regulatory process is on. We also have to finalise sites for clinical trial, although we are sure Mumbai will be part of it,” said Swaminathan.

She explained that similar study was done in South Africa with good outcome.

What is the biggest benefit of the new regimen?

“They recently shared the outcome of their study where they have found a good result in 35 patients. The best part of this regime is we can do away with Kanamycin, which is an injectable drug and make it fully oral regimen,” said Swaminathan.

She further said the biggest benefit of this regimen is reduction of chances of resistance.

“You have two new classes of drugs – bedaquiline and delamanid – and so the chances of developing resistance are reduced,” said Swaminathan.

The World Health Organisation’s global TB report for 2016 estimated that 28 lakh people  developed TB in India, which is significantly higher than the earlier estimate of 22 lakh in 2014. It is also estimated that TB kills over 4,50,000 Indians every year.

TB survey in India soon

TB prevalence survey in India was last done in 1955. We plan to conduct the prevalence survey. It will be a huge exercise involving a sample size of half a million people. We will toll out this project soon,” said Swaminathan. The national drug resistance of TB drugs will be declared soon.

Swaminathan also added that a simplified version of GeneXpert machines – (for test done to find out drug resistant form of tuberculosis in two hours) – will be soon introduced in primary health care centres that will help in early diagnosis of drug resistance TB.

“It is a chip-based battery operated portable device which will be introduced in PHCs,” said Swaminathan.