New Anti TB drug
"Bayer Offers New Antibiotic with Promise in Fight on TB"
New York Times (10.18.05): Donald G. McNeil Jr.
Yesterday, Bayer Healthcare announced that it will allow its new
antibiotic, moxifloxacin, to be tested against TB. If the medi-
cine substantially shortens TB treatment, which typically lasts
six months, the firm will sell millions of doses at low cost to
The move is unusual because Bayer makes about $500 million a
year now from moxifloxacin, and companies rarely test their
best-selling antibiotics against TB or other diseases commonly
found in the developing world for fear of hurting sales in rich
countries. However, Bayer's initiative is part of a contract
with the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, a public-
private partnership. The clinical trials of moxifloxacin, in-
volving thousands of patients in eight countries including Bra-
zil and Zambia, are funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Founda-
tion, CDC, the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials
Partnership and the Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. Kenneth G. Castro, director of TB Elimination at CDC, said
in his 12 years working on TB, Bayer's initiative is one of the
most exciting advances he's seen. Doctors Without Borders, often
critical of the pharmaceutical industry, also praised Bayer.
Four old antibiotics with expired patents; isoniazid, ethambu-
tol, rifampicin and pyrazinamide, are the mainstays of current
TB treatment. Patients typically take drug cocktails for six
months. Substituting moxifloxacin for one of the old drugs has
cut treatment time to four months in tests on mice, according to
Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, who treats TB patients in central Harlem and
Durban, South Africa, said no new TB medication has been regis-
tered for 40 years, and one of the four drugs she prescribes for
new patients clashes with an HIV/AIDS medication. Many of El-
Sadr's patients have both diseases. "Every new TB drug is pre-
cious," she said. "That's why what Bayer is doing is a big