Issue brief |

Making the Switch

Saving more lives with optimal treatment for drug-resistant TB

Photo by Oksana Parafeniuk

Previously recommended treatment regimens for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) used by most countries had a high pill burden, long treatment duration (of up to two years), painful daily injections (for up to eight months), severe side effects (due to toxic drugs) and poor treatment outcomes. These suboptimal regimens achieved treatment success rates of only 55% for people with multidrug-resistant/rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis (MDR/RR-TB) and 34% for people with extensively drug-resistant TB.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued new MDR/RR-TB treatment guidelines in March 2019. This technical brief provides a summary of the treatment regimens now recommended by WHO, which represent hope for people with DR-TB and their caregivers because they offer better cure rates and fewer side effects using safer all-oral treatment.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urges countries to make a timely switch to these regimens given the clear benefits of providing bedaquiline for all people with MDR-TB and the urgent need to discontinue use of harmful injectable agents.