South Africa grants almost every patent application it receives, making its patent regime one of the world’s most lenient. While pharmaceutical companies cash in, patients face staggering healthcare costs, and medicines like cancer treatments, third-line antiretrovirals (ARVs) and treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) are often priced out of reach.
South Africa’s move to decentralize the treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) has given rise to a crop of nurses equipped not only to initiate patients on HIV treatment, but also to prescribe for and monitor drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) patients. However, experts and government officials say the need for specialist physicians and hospitals will continue, based on research presented at the South African TB conference in the port city of Durban.
Key Issues in the Management of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
1. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) is defined as tuberculosis (TB) disease where there is in vitro resistance to both isoniazid and rifampicin, with or without resistance to other anti-TB drugs. As isoniazid and rifampicin are the two most important first-line TB drugs, their removal through resistance from the anti-TB drug armamentarium has serious implications.