The Wall Street Journal reports on a rise of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) in India, writing, “India’s slow response to years of medical warnings now threatens to turn the country into an incubator for a mutant strain of tuberculosis that is proving resistant to all known treatments, raising alarms of a new global health hazard.” The newspaper continues, “Spread of the strain could return tuberculosis to the fatal plague that killed two-thirds of people afflicted, before modern treatments were developed in the 1940s, said Dr. Mario Raviglione, director of the Stop TB Department of the World Health Organization.” The newspaper notes, “The WHO is now assisting India to combat the strain” (Anand, 6/19).
Noting that the “[r]oll-out of antiretroviral treatment for HIV in sub-Saharan Africa has been accompanied by rising rates of drug resistance,” Raph Hamers, a global health research fellow at the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam, and colleagues “call for improved patient management and the integration of population-based drug resistance surveillance into national treatment programs” in this BMJ analysis. “In sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest HIV/AIDS burden, high-level political commitment and substantial international funding have led to an unparalleled scale-up of access to treatment over the past eight years,” they write, adding, “However, little attention has been paid to the potential emergence and spread of drug-resistant HIV and its public health implications.”
“Two years after some $22 million in donor funds were pumped into malaria control along the Cambodia-Thailand border to fight off suspected resistance to treatment, health workers say the battle is not over,” IRIN reports, adding, “The government reported 103,000 malaria infections and 151 deaths nationwide in 2010. A year later, 85,000 reported infections led to 93 deaths — a 38-percent decline in mortality.” “‘If you take your foot off the â€¦ [accelerator] we can lose everything we have done in the past two to three years,’ Steven Bjorge, anti-malaria team leader in Cambodia for the [WHO], told IRIN in February 2012,” the news service writes.
“One in 10 cases of tuberculosis in China cannot be treated by the most commonly-used drugs, driven by a lack of testing and misuse of medicine, according to a national survey that showed for the first time the size of the drug-resistant epidemic,” the Associated Press reports (Wong, 6/7). “‘In 2007, one third of the patients with new cases of tuberculosis and one half of the patients with previously treated tuberculosis had drug-resistant disease,’ said the study in the New England Journal of Medicine,” Agence France-Presse reports, adding, “Even more, the prevalence of multi-drug resistant [tuberculosis (MDR-TB)] in new cases (5.7 percent) was nearly twice the global average, said the study” (6/6).
“Researchers who tested a novel type of antibiotic against multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis [MDR-TB] are reporting that nearly half of patients who got the new drug cleared the bacteria from their lung fluid in two months,” according to a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, Reuters reports. Japanese pharmaceutical company Otsuka developed the experimental drug, delamanid, and “also designed and financed the clinical trial, which took place in 17 medical centers across nine countries,” the news service writes (Emery, 6/6).
“Drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea have spread to countries across the world, the U.N. health agency said on Wednesday, and millions of patients may run out of treatment options unless doctors catch and treat cases earlier,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 6/6). “Already several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom are reporting cases of resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics — the last treatment option against gonorrhea,” a WHO press release states (6/6).
“Counterfeit, falsified, and substandard drugs are a dangerous threat to people around the world, including Americans,” therefore “we have a vital interest in ensuring the safety of an ever more complex global drug supply chain,” Jennifer White, a foreign service officer in the Office of International Health and Biodefense in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, writes in a post in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog. She notes that the “Department of State engages in the fight against counterfeit medicines using a multi-faceted approach,” including training foreign drug regulators; funding consumer outreach to raise awareness of the problem; being active in international bodies that address counterfeiting, such as the WHO; and “work[ing] in partnership with other U.S. government agencies, the health care community, patients, civil society, and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that patients receive safe medicines and that those who put patients’ lives at risk can be prosecuted” (5/22).
Study Shows Prevalence Of Drug-Resistant HIV Strains In Uganda Rising, Among Highest In Sub-Saharan Africa
“The prevalence of drug-resistant HIV strains in Uganda has risen from 8.6 percent to 12 percent in the last five years, one of the highest rates in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a recent study,” PlusNews reports. “The PharmAccess African Studies to Evaluate Resistance (PASER) monitoring cohort study report for 2008-2012” — “which was based on results from the capital, Kampala, the western town of Fort Portal, and the eastern town of Mbale” — “found that the prevalence of transmitted drug resistance among people who have never taken life-prolonging antiretroviral (ARV) medication was substantially higher in Uganda” than in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, the news service writes.
“Low-quality and fake anti-malarial drugs flooding into markets in Asia and Africa are driving drug resistance and threatening gains made in the fight against the disease in the past decade, according to a study” conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published Monday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, Reuters reports (Kelland, 5/21). In an analysis of “27 sets of tests of antimalarial drugs purchased in Southeast Asia and Africa between 1999 and 2010,” “[a]bout a third of the drug samples from both continents failed,” the New York Times writes, noting, “Some were clearly criminal counterfeits, some were expired drugs that had been repackaged and some were poorly made with too little active ingredient” (McNeil, 5/21).
The Globe and Mail reports on “a massive resurgence of malaria [in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] that has baffled scientists and raised doubts about the global fight against the deadly scourge.” “Malaria is already the single biggest killer in Congo, with nearly 200,000 people dying annually, and now the trend is worsening,” the newspaper writes, noting that “the number of malaria patients has soared by a stunning 250 percent … since 2009,” according to data from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).