TB faces threat

Published: Monday 31 August 1998

The US Food and Drug Administration (PDA) has approved rifapentine (Priftin) - the first new antituberculosis (anti-TB) drug to be licensed in 25 years. Rifapentine is indicated for pulmonary tuberculo-sis but must be used in conjunction with other anti-TB drugs. It is expected to increase patient compli-ance because it has a shorter treat-ment course than conventional drugs. Current treatment regimens for active pulmonary TB require at least six to nine months of treatment with at least three drugs, which usu-ally include isoniazid, rifampicin and pyrazinamide. In certain recalcitrant cases, treatment can even go on for over a year. Because the regimen is complicated and lengthy, patient compliance is problematic and treat-ment errors are common. Like rifampicin, rifapentine is given twice a week for two months in the inten-sive first phase of the treatment along with the standard antituberculosis drugs, isoniazid, pyrazinamide and ethambutol. However, in the next four months, only one dose of rifapentine per week is sufficient.

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