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Open Access (Re)moving the needle: prospects for all-oral treatment for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis

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BACKGROUND: Currently recommended regimens for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) contain painful daily injections and are unsuccessful in approximately half of patients. Removal of the injectable agent to fashion all-oral regimens could transform MDR-TB treatment and access to care.

OBJECTIVE: To explore evidence for all-oral treatment regimens.

DESIGN: We review evidence on drugs that could be included in injection-free MDR-TB regimens. The oral drugs considered have an indication for or are recommended for off-label use for TB or MDR-TB, and have demonstrated bactericidal activity. Drugs with weak bactericidal activity should have limited prior population exposure and evidence of effectiveness in MDR-TB regimens.

RESULTS: Bedaquiline, delamanid, and linezolid all display strong bactericidal activity, while clofazimine has weak bactericidal activity. They all have limited prior population exposure and demonstrated effectiveness in MDR-TB regimens. Despite widespread exposure to pyrazinamide and late-generation fluoroquinolones in the population, all are bactericidal and have shown great value when included in treatment regimens for MDR-TB.

CONCLUSION: The evidence supports the use of all-oral regimens comprising new and existing drugs for MDR-TB treatment. Existing evidence of bactericidal activity and efficacy for these drugs provides a convincing argument for transitioning MDR-TB treatment towards all-oral regimens. These new regimens could mitigate the delivery, cost, and adherence challenges inherent to the current standard.
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Keywords: all-oral; multidrug-resistant tuberculosis; shortened therapy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA; Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, USA 2: Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA 3: Medical Department, Médecins Sans Frontières, Paris, France 4: Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA; Partners In Health, Boston, USA; Division of Global Health Equity, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2016

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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