Tuberculosis: FDA Approves First New Drug Treatment In 40 Years

The FDA has approved a new tuberculosis drug making it the first of its kind in over 40 years.

On December 31, The Food and Drug Administration granted approval of Sirturo, a pill uniquely designed to combat strains of tuberculosis that are resistant to other treatments.

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis strains fail to respond to treatment from at least two of the four primary drugs commonly used against the infection. Sirturo, known chemically as bedaquiline, will be prescribed to treat this type of tuberculosis, reports The Boston Globe.

Manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, Sirturo is the first tuberculosis medication to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration in over 40 years. The last time a new drug was developed to fight the deadly disease came in the 1960s.

Sirturo does have its downside with potentially fatal side effects. Inside the medication’s box a warning alerts users to possible heart complications. Edward Cox, director of the FDA’s antibacterial drugs office, said the following:

“Sirturo provides much-needed treatment for patients who have don’t have other therapeutic options available. However, because the drug also carries some significant risks, doctors should make sure they use it appropriately and only in patients who don’t have other treatment options.”

An article by the New York Times reports that tuberculosis is considered to be a serious global threat. Highly contagious with airborne transmission, the disease affects multiple parts of the body – primarily the lungs. Rare domestically, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis cases are increasing in other parts of the world.

According to Johnson & Johnson, there were approximately 12 million tuberculosis cases globally last year. Roughly 630,000 of those cases involved multidrug-resistant strains.

What do you think of the FDA’s approval of the first new tuberculosis drug in 40 years?