By Dr Suzanne Staples, Chief Strategy Officer at THINK
May 2022 marks such a proud and exciting moment in Drug-Resistant TB care, one that THINK has been closely involved with for many years and right from the start. My personal pride stems from the fact that THINK, and the clinical team has contributed so much to this historic moment through hard work and dedication together with our sponsors and collaborators. For decades patients did not have access to new treatments and had to endure toxic drugs and even long-term injectables. Then we entered an age of discovery with new drugs, namely Bedaquiline, Pretomanid and Delamanid, being researched and registered for use, with THINK proudly contributing to the clinical trials of all three! This also gave researchers and clinicians new tools in their arsenal to start forming newer, shorter, and less toxic regimens than no longer include injectables. First taking us from 24 months down to 9 and now to 6-months with the recent WHO recommended BPaL (M) regimens.
This recommendation by the WHO should be a moment of excitement for all because now these advancements in care can be made available not just to those patients who volunteer to be part of our trials, but to all who suffer from MDR and Pre-XDR TB. With this access we hope a wave of renewed hope comes so that those who need treatment can get better access to care for a shorter period, potentially leading to improved adherence and overall better outcomes and lives saved. In the words of Dr Tereza Kasaeva, Director of WHO’s Global TB Programme. “We now need all hands on deck to enable the rapid uptake of these guidelines, and to enable access to the new treatment options for those in need.”