Pharma & drug development

Understanding drug-resistant TB

Drug-resistant tuberculosis causes one third of all antimicrobial resistance related deaths, presenting an enormous challenge. The threat is growing and has the potential to spiral out of control as drugs lose all effectiveness, so what can be done? Abi Millar reports.

Drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is a serious, and growing, public health threat. Despite attracting less media attention than other diseases of comparable severity, TB is the world’s deadliest infectious disease and the drug-resistant strain is becoming more virulent.

Worldwide the disease infected 558,000 people in 2017, and killed 230,000. By 2050, the mortality rate could soar to 2.5 million – a more than tenfold increase. This would cost the global economy $17tn.

“DR-TB is an epidemic within an epidemic,” says Cat Oyler, vice president of global public health, tuberculosis, at Johnson & Johnson. “If we don’t address DR-TB now, research has shown the proportion of DR-TB will continue to increase, becoming more and more difficult and more and more expensive to treat.

In May, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released a report on the subject, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. The report – subtitled ‘the case for action’ – did not sugarcoat the facts. It pointed out that our current response to the situation is far from adequate, and made a strong case for increasing investment into DR-TB.

Read the rest of this article in the August 2019 edition of Pharma Technology Focus

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