The World Health Organization (WHO) reaffirmed the “critical need” for research and development (R&D) of new antibiotics to tackle the threat of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), particularly since more than $800 million per year is currently necessary to fund badly needed research into new antibiotics to treat TB.
The MDR-TB public health crisis continues: there were an estimated 580,000 cases and 250,000 related deaths in 2015. Only 125,000 were started on treatment, and just half of those people were cured.
Only two new antibiotics to address MDR-TB have completed Phase IIB trials in the past 50 years. Both are still in Phase III trials, and more funding will be required to complete the process and to develop other effective treatment regimens.
Earlier, WHO published a list of antibiotic-resistant pathogens that have recently been prioritized as posing great risk to human health.
“Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium responsible for human TB, was not included in the scope of the prioritization exercise as the intention was to identify previously unrecognized health threats due to increasing antibiotic resistance. There is already consensus that TB is a top priority for R&D for new antibiotics,” said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant Director-General at WHO.
TB is the most common opportunistic infection (OI) affecting HIV-seropositive people, and remains the most common cause of death in patients with AIDS. According to WHO, the risk of developing TB is estimated to be between 26 and 31 times greater in people living with HIV than among those without HIV infection. In 2014, there were 9.6 million new cases of TB, of which 1.2 million were among PLHIVs.