A new patient-friendly tuberculosis (TB) preventive therapy will be rolled out in five high-burden tuberculosis countries in Africa at an affordable price from this month.
Unitaid, PEPFAR and the Global Fund has provided a total of US$15 of the new regimen to Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe as the first countries out a total of 12 that that will get the therapy.
Other countries are expected to receive supplies with the support of PEPFAR and the Global Fund to fight HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
The new fixed-dose combination (FDC) of “3HP”, a short-course Tuberculosis Preventive Treatment (TPT) combining two drugs, rifapentine and isoniazid treatments reduce the pill burden from nine to three pills a week for adults and prevent TB in those at highest risk of developing the disease.
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According to Dr. Tereza Kasaeva, Director of World Health Organization’s Global TB Programme, enough treatments for up to 3 million patients are expected to be made available for eligible countries this year.
In a press statement sent to newsrooms, Kasaeva said WHO welcomes the new fixed-dose combination TB preventive treatment that will result in reducing the pill burden for people with TB infection, enabling better adherence and outcomes.
“This collaboration between Unitaid, the Clinton Health Access Initiative and manufacturers has been vital to support the uptake of TB preventive treatment as recommended in WHO guidelines,” said the Director.
She added that the WHO is looking forward to a surge in action from national programmes supported by donors and partners to scale-up access to TB preventive treatment and to reach the United Nations High-Level Meeting targets.
An agreement concluded by Unitaid, the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the manufacturer of the FDC, Macleods, the latter has agreed to offer a ceiling price of US$15 for a three-month patient course of weekly rifapentine and isoniazid.
As part of a wider access strategy to facilitate the introduction of generic rifapentine-based formulations in low and middle-income countries, the partnership also seeks to move towards the United Nations High-level Meeting target to provide TPT to at least 30 million people by 2022.
People with TB infection, often dubbed latent, have no symptoms, are not contagious and most do not know they are infected and without treatment, 5 per cent to 10 per cent of them develop active TB, the form which makes them sick and can transmit the disease to others.
Preventive TB treatment is a cornerstone of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Global Accelerator to end TB, and having a shorter FDC TPT regimen available at a relatively low price will enable USAID to work with partners and stakeholders to rapidly scale up TPT for all who would benefit from it in high burden countries.