Musime stopped taking tuberculosis (TB)-drugs three months after starting his medication. He argued that after three months; he was better and did not need the drugs. Musiime complained that the eight months' dose was inconveniencing him.
However, advancements in the development of a new TB drug could mean shorter treatment cycle for patients like Musiime. The new drug, which can reduce the medication period of TB by many months has reached advanced stages, the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) has announced.
This is a milestone in the development of faster, simpler TB drug regimens. With multi-drug resistant TB on the increase worldwide, a new drug is urgently needed.
"Two new promising TB drugs are moving forward in clinical trials, offering patients worldwide the hope of a markedly shorter TB treatment," said Dr. Maria Freire, CEO and President of the TB Alliance.
Prof. Anthony MBewu, President of the South Africa Medical Research Council, says "A shorter TB regimen, which may be possible with new drugs such as moxifloxacin and PA-824, should lead to improved patient compliance, helping to limit the emergence of new, resistant strains."
The novel antibiotic, PA-824, may shorten the time needed to treat TB, a contagious disease that claims approximately two million lives annually.
According to Dr Joseph Kawuma, the Executive Secretary of Uganda Stop TB-Partnership, many TB patients don't finish their dose within the prescribed eight months.
He says a prolonged TB regimen has been largely blamed for the high number of patients who don't complete their prescribed medication which can last up to eight months.
He warns that those who don't complete their treatment stand a high risk of developing drug resistant TB. Kawuma says the advancement in trials is good news for TB patients and health service delivery. "It means that more people will be willing to complete the dose. The shorter treatment is more convenient to complete," Kawuma said.
He said that Uganda will monitor the developments in the trials and if it turns out positive, a decision will be taken on whether to use it on TB patients in Uganda.
The current four-drug TB regimen, which was developed in the 1960s, works only as long as patients complete at least six months of treatment. However, when patients start to feel better within a few weeks, many find it difficult to complete the treatment. This can lead to the emergence of TB strains that are resistant to first-line - and even second-line - drugs.
The study will assess whether each of two, four-month regimens substituting moxifloxacin for one of the current standard drugs (ethambutol or isoniazid) is as effective as the standard six-month therapy. Phase III studies are needed to build on results of three shorter, smaller Phase II studies, which used similar substitution strategies with moxifloxacin.