Infection Control Today (03.19.13)
Aids Weekly Plus
UNITAID and the TB Alliance warn that there are no specific pediatric TB drugs despite the fact that there are approximately 500,000 new annual cases of TB in children and the disease is one of the top 10 causes of childhood death. It affects the world’s poorest, most vulnerable children. Providers of TB treatment for children usually adapt the adult drugs through efforts such as cutting pills to treat them. This results in improper treatment, treatment failure, spread of the disease, and development of drug-resistant strains of the TB bacteria.
To meet the need for childhood TB drugs, UNITAID is funding a TB Alliance project to develop a proper dose child-friendly first-line TB treatment that should be available in three years. According to UNITAID Executive Director Denis Broun, the project is meant to encourage innovation so that the right kinds of treatments are available as quickly as possible at affordable prices. He stated that other global players need to come forward, especially in identifying affected children.
Mel Spiegelman, president and chief executive officer of TB Alliance, describes the issue of developing treatment for children with TB as “an urgent humanitarian imperative.” He explained that there is no appropriate pediatric formulation of the old TB drugs; therefore, there is an immediate need to correct the situation for the present drugs and make sure that improved treatments in the pipeline will be developed for children soon after they are approved for adults.