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[e-drug] MSF: Stop TB Doomed Without New Drugs and Tests

E-DRUG: MSF: Stop TB Doomed Without New Drugs and Tests

Please find following MSF's press release to coincide with World
Tuberculosis Day, March 24.

                         P R E S S   R E L E A S E

                         Médecins Sans Frontières:
        Global Effort to Stop TB Doomed Without New Drugs and Tests

New  Delhi  /  Geneva,  24th March 2004 (World TB Day) -- The international
humanitarian medical organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today said
that  we are losing the battle against tuberculosis (TB) because we rely on
archaic  diagnostic  tests  and  drugs. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has magnified
this  problem  as  TB often coincides with, and is made harder to treat by,
HIV/AIDS.  MSF  calls  for an urgent increase in worldwide investment in TB
research and development.

"Delivering  adequate  TB care would require a reliable diagnostic test for
TB  to begin with, but we don't have one," said Dr Rowan Gillies, president
of  MSF  International,  at  the  Stop  TB Partners' Forum in New Delhi. "A
growing number of TB patients worldwide also have HIV/AIDS, but the current
diagnostic  tool  can  only  detect  TB  in  50%  of HIV-patients even in a
well-run TB programme."

Diagnosis  of  children  is particularly problematic as it mainly relies on
detailing the symptoms and signs of TB, but can most often not be confirmed

Current first-line TB drugs were developed in the 1940s to 1960s. "We can't
be  satisfied  with  the  TB treatment we and our colleagues in national TB
programmes  have  at  our  disposal  today,"  said Olivier Brouant, head of
mission  for  MSF's TB project in Mumbai. "A patient must take TB treatment
daily  during  six to eight months ? surely we can do better than this," Mr
Brouant  said.  In addition, most easy-to-use fixed-dose combinations of TB
drugs  are  not  available in paediatric doses in many of the countries MSF
works in.

Pharmaceutical  companies  are  carrying out some R&D for TB, but they have
generally  disinvested  themselves  from  antibacterial R&D. They cannot be
relied on to bring a new TB drug to a market that mainly consists of people
with very little purchasing power.

MSF  is therefore calling for governments and the World Health Organization
to  take  the  lead  in defining and funding an ambitious R&D agenda for TB
based on public health needs.

A  diagnostic  test  for  SARS  was  developed  by  the Genome Institute of
Singapore  just  months  after  the  outbreak of the disease last year. "TB
kills two million people every year, but where is the sense of urgency that
will secure resources and accelerate the process of developing new tools to
fight it?" Dr Gillies asked.

MSF currently treats approximately 20,000 TB patients in 30 projects around
the  world.  The organisation is also providing antiretroviral treatment to
people living with HIV/AIDS in more than 20 resource-poor countries.

For more information please contact:
Sean Healy          (in Geneva)               +41 22 849 8401

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *     *    *    *    *

TB  kills  two  million  people  every year. About one third of the world's
population is currently infected with TB, and roughly eight million of them
develop active TB each year.

Sean Healy
Information Officer
Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines
Médecins Sans Frontières
Geneva, Switzerland
tel ++41-22-8498 401
fax ++41-22-8498 404
mobile tel ++41-79-239 9271

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