The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved four new drugs manufactured by the Macleods of India for treatment of tuberculosis, agency reports say. And one of the four would be used against some strains of TB resistant to standard treatment.
The addition of these four medicines will reinforce efforts to scale up access to anti-tuberculosis medicines in high-burden areas, the WHO said in a statement.
The medicines are the first TB products to be added to the list in two years.
One of the new products, Cycloserine, is particularly important because it is a second-line medicine, necessary for cases that are resistant to standard treatment, WHO said.
Macleods is a large generics manufacturer, with an annual turnover of over three billion US dollars. The new approval could mark a significant stage in the fight against TB.
The latest reports by the WHO itself have indicated that the drug-resistant strains are proving a great challenge to health administrators worldwide.
XDR-TB is a "super bug" which resists three or more classes of second-line tuberculosis drugs. It has been identified in 28 countries worldwide, with cases concentrated in the United States, Latvia and South Korea. In South Africa, the XDR strain has killed nearly 200 people since September.
Mario Raviglione, director of the United Nations agency's Stop TB Department, said recently the strain could cause more widespread deaths among those with HIV/AIDS in the coming years.
New antibiotics and drugs to fight XDR-TB could take more than five years to reach the market, Raviglione had also warned.
Hence the WHO has stressed that countries needed to boost their laboratory capacities and quickly identify which patients have drug-resistant TB strains, for necessary follow up treatmnet.
Any failure to effectively combat the drug-resistant strains could trigger off an epidemic of uncontrollable proportions, it has been noted.