TB Alliance in talks with government over use of new shorter BPaL Regimen

TB Alliance, the New York-based non-profit that discovers and offers drugs to fight tuberculosis (TB), said it is in talks with the Indian government to recommend the use of the new shorter BPaL regimen in the country’s TB control programme. India has the world’s highest TB burden– 2.6 million active cases and close to 450,000 deaths each year from the infectious bacterial disease. That’s more than a quarter of the global disease burden. India also accounts for a quarter of the world’s drug-resistant-TB.

“We are now in active discussions with the National TB (Control) Programme, key opinion leaders and other government (officials) in India to now begin to recommend the use of the new BPaL regimen with the lower dose of linezolid as standard in the National TB Control Programme,” Mel Spigelman, president & CEO of TB Alliance, told ET.

BPaL is a combination of three antibiotics–bedaquiline, pretomanid and linezolid–used to treat drug-resistant TB. BPaL is the shorter regimen of six months compared with the usual 18-month protocol, and cuts the pill burden significantly. Despite the benefits of the combination therapy and the country’s high TB burden, the Indian government went slow on recommending BPaL, as it was worried about the high-dose linezolid-associated side effects. While two components–pretomanid and bedaquiline–are novel drugs developed by TB Alliance and Johnson & Johnson, respectively, linezolid is an old generic drug. The three drugs are approved in India.

(With inputs from health)