Viewpoint: How 3Ps can deliver new drugs for world’s biggest killer
Imagine a disease that is the world’s biggest killer, with 1.5 million people dying from it each year. It is a disease that touches every country, but some, such as South Africa, Uzbekistan and India, have been hit particularly hard. This disease has a treatment which, in its simplest form, takes six months to complete.
For the complex forms, treatment causes patients to become psychotic, attempt suicide, or permanently lose their hearing due to side effects and offers a 50 percent chance of cure at best; yet in the past 50 years, only two new drugs have been developed to treat a disease that many think is extinct. The disease? Tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis is a disease that affects millions of people today; in 2014, 9.6 million new cases required treatment. But it is a disease that mainly affects the poor, people in low- and middle-income countries. Multidrug-resistant forms of TB are particularly difficult to treat. MDR-TB — the result of TB bacteria becoming resistant to the standard, or first-line, drugs to treat TB — puts people through two years of treatment, including eight months of daily injections and a total of more than 14,600 pills to swallow.
- Health Care