The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued interim guidelines on the use of bedaquiline to treat MDR-TB. WHO estimates that up to half a million new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) occur worldwide, each year. Current treatment regimens for MDR-TB present many challenges including the fact that treatment lasts 20 months or more, requiring daily administration of drugs that are more toxic, less effective, and the fact that it is far more expensive than those used to treat drug-susceptible TB. Globally, less than half of all patients who start MDR-TB therapy are treated successfully.
MSF says that the scale of the DR-TB epidemic is huge, with 310,000 new cases notified in 2011. But globally, only 19% of people thought to be infected are receiving some kind of treatment
Global NGO, Mediciencs Sans Frontiers issued a response to WHO's guidelines was which said, "The new WHO guidelines on bedaquiline use are welcomed, and are very timely given the drug's recent approval by the USFDA and the urgent need to scale-up treatment of drug-resistant TB.Regulated, controlled use of bedaquiline is essential in ensuring we don't burn one of the very few drugs available that could effectively treat drug-resistant TB."
Bedaquiline is the first drug in over 40 years, to be approved for treatment of TB drug with a novel mechanism of action. It was granted an accelerated approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration in December 2012.
There is considerable interest in the potential of this drug to treat MDR-TB. However, information about this new drug remains limited. It has only been through two Phase IIb trials for safety and efficacy. WHO is therefore issuing "interim policy guidance".