Global Introduction of New Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis Drugs—Balancing Regulation with Urgent Patient Needs
T. Sullivan and Y. Ben Amor
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New treatments for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) are urgently needed. Two new drugs, bedaquiline and delamanid, have recently been released, and several new drugs and treatment regimens are in the pipeline. Misuse of TB drugs is a principal cause of drug resistance. As new drugs and regimens reach the market, the need to make them available to patients must be balanced with regulation of their use so that resistance to the new drugs can be prevented. To foster the rational use of new drugs, we propose 1) expanding/strengthening the capacity for drug susceptibility testing, beginning with countries with a high TB burden; 2) regulating prescribing practices by banning over-the-counter sale of TB drugs and enacting an accreditation system whereby providers must be certified to prescribe new drugs; and 3) decentralizing MDR TB care in rural communities by employing trained community health workers, using promising mobile technologies, and enlisting the aid of civil society organizations.