Strawberry flavored medicine against tuberculosis facilitates children treatment

Another benefit is the low cost, accessible to the poorest countries


A full 6-month treatment will cost US$ 15.54 per patient

Pediatric drug administration against tuberculosis was until recently, a problem for health professionals. This was because the childrens doses were high, forcing them to cut and crush the pills, making their flavor bitter. These factors hampered the children to ingest the full doses, but a solution could completely revert this picture.

This is an adaptation of existing drugs, but with more adequate doses and strawberry or blackberry flavored. In addition, more: the accessible cost for poor countries, costing US$15.54 for the full 6-month treatment per patient.

The work was developed by the non-governmental organization Alliance for Tuberculosis in a partnership with manufacturers as Macleods. Find below, and interview to the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine about the theme with Dr. Mel Spigelman, president of the organization.

BSMT: How as the drug was developed?

Dr. Mel Spigelman: These improved cures for children are not new drugs, but rather new versions or formulations of the existing tuberculosis treatment made to meet the specific needs of children.

TB treatment comprises multiple drugs and takes a minimum of 6 months. The three most commonly used drugs to treat TB in children are rifampicin, isoniazid and pyrazinamide for the first two months (intensive phase), and then isoniazid and pyrazinamide for the remaining four months (continuation phase).

In 2010, WHO changed their recommended dosing of these drugs for children, effectively recognizing that children were being under-dosed with the current products. However, no new medicines in the correct doses came to market. Therefore, around the world, care providers and parents had to split or crush a number of pills to achieve the correct dose. Alternatively, some countries continued to use the old drugs, essentially under-dosing children with TB which could promote the development of drug resistance.

To produce these cures, TB Alliance worked with manufacturers such as Macleods to conduct bioequivalence and other studies to ensure the treatments were delivering the drugs at these new doses. This project was made possible by funding from UNITAID and others.

BSMT: What causes the drug to be special?

Dr. Mel Spigelman: Currently, children with TB are treated with inadequate medicines. This means those providing treatment have to cut and crush pills—which makes them taste bitter–to approximate the proper dose for the child. That makes the six-month medication even more difficult to take—many children don’t finish their medications, leading to more sickness, death, and the development of more difficult to treat drug-resistant TB.

These new cures are made for children and contain the proper doses of each medicine required to cure TB. This means treatment is much easier to give and much easier to take. The treatment dissolves in a very small amount of water, contains the right amount of medicine, and is fruit-flavored.

BSMT: The drug will be available for free in poor countries ? or at least at an affordable price?

Dr. Mel Spigelman: In many high TB burden countries, TB treatment is available for free through the national TB treatment programs. So, if TB treatment is currently free for children in your country, these treatments are likely to be available the same way once that country orders them.

For countries, the cost of a full course of therapy with these new products is quite affordable. It costs approximately $15.54 for a six-month course of treatment. Many high burden countries will have these medicines paid for by the Global Fund and other donors.

BSMT: The drug will be available in which countries?

Dr. Mel Spigelman: Any country can currently procure the medicines through the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility. In-country registration of the medicines has also begun.

BSMT: How this drug contribute to the control of tuberculosis in the world?

Dr. Mel Spigelman: The new TB treatments for children are easier to take and easier to give. This means that children are more likely to successfully complete TB treatment. This could result in more effective treatment for children, less drug-resistance, and fewer deaths from TB among children.…