WHO: New anti-tuberculosis drugs for Belarus
A workshop entitled “Preparedness for introduction of the new anti-tuberculosis drugs in the treatment regimens for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in Belarus” was held on 28 August 2013 at the Republican Scientific and Practical Centre for Pulmonology and Tuberculosis. At the workshop, which was organized by WHO with the support of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), participants had the opportunity to discuss the imminent emergence of new anti-TB drugs for treatment of multidrug-resistant forms of tuberculosis.
The workshop was attended by WHO specialists Dr Christian Lindhardt and Dr Dennis Falzon, as well as specialists from the Ministry of Health, national TB control programme, National Pharmacovigilance Centre and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Forty years after the introduction of the last anti-TB drug, the first of the new anti-tuberculosis drugs, bedaquiline, was officially registered by the United States Food and Drug Administration at the end of 2012. The newly registered anti-TB drug will be added to the standard treatment regimens for MDR-TB patients. WHO has just recently published the interim policy guidance - "The use of bedaquiline in the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis”.
Pilot scheme could make new drug available
One possibility for Belarus is to have access to the new anti-TB drug under a pilot scheme for “compassionate use” of bedaquiline for patients with severe resistance patterns to anti-TB drugs. WHO is prepared to provide technical assistance in development of the protocol for the introduction of bedaquiline in Belarus and is closely monitoring the results of the pilot.
A recent drug resistance survey in Belarus found that 32% of new TB cases were MDR-TB and 75% of those previously treated for TB were MDR-TB. WHO/Europe provides technical assistance to the Belarusian Ministry of Health and national tuberculosis programme with the financial support of the USAID grant “Enhancement of the STOP TB strategy in Belarus, 2010-2013”.