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
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.
Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines
Médecins Sans Frontières
tel ++41-22-8498 401
fax ++41-22-8498 404
mobile tel ++41-79-239 9271
To send a message to E-Drug, write to: email@example.com
To subscribe or unsubscribe, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
in the body of the message type: subscribe e-drug OR unsubscribe e-drug
To contact a person, send a message to: email@example.com
Information and archives: http://www.essentialdrugs.org/edrug