Bedaquiline is the first new drug to have been given approval to be used in the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) by the Food and Drug Administration in 40 years. However, a community health group is advising that further research needs to proceed cautiously in light of potentially serious adverse effects.
Studies have found that the drug is particularly effective against multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), reducing the average time to a negative TB culture by a third and increasing the overall proportion of negative TB culture participants after 6 months from 58% to 79%.
A new drug that is specifically effective at tackling MDR-TB would be a very useful weapon to have, but the Community Research Advisors Group (CRAG) have argued in an article written for The Lancet that bedaquiline has several safety concerns that need addressing.
The authors from CRAG recommend that the drug be trialled in populations that have a high usage of alcohol and drugs and have Hepatitis B and C. These groups are identified by the authors as ones that would greatly benefit from a shortened treatment time, whilst also being at an increased risk from some of bedaquiline’s potential side effects.