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Old Anti-Inflammatory Drug Possible Candidate To Treat TB

After testing about 5,600 existing medications for their effectiveness against drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB), researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that oxyphenbutazone, “an anti-inflammatory medication marketed in the 1950s as Tandearil and still used in veterinary medicine,” killed both latent and active TB bacteria in test-tube experiments, the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog reports. The medication is inexpensive, estimated to cost two cents per day in developing countries, according to the researchers, but it needs to go through “a series of clinical trials in which researchers would flesh out, in a human population, the medication’s safety and effectiveness record at various doses, in different patient populations and at different stages of the disease,” the blog writes.

Lead author Carl Nathan suggested the FDA waive its requirements for animal testing, according to the blog. “‘A long track record of oxyphenbutazone’s relatively safe use in hundreds of thousands of people over decades’ should be evidence enough to allow researchers to proceed with trials on humans with TB, he said,” the blog notes. “Even if such a waiver were forthcoming, there’s the question of who would pay for the large and costly human trials that would be necessary,” “Booster Shots” continues, noting that some philanthropic organizations might underwrite such research (Healy, 9/11).