Rolling out new anti-tuberculosis drugs without diagnostic capacity


Deaths from tuberculosis (TB) reached over 1.6 million in 2021 with 10.6 million people becoming ill. Multidrug-resistant TB, defined as the Mycobacterium tuberculosis organism having resistance to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, represented 3.9% of new TB cases and 18% of previously treated cases. While new drug regimens continue to be developed and introduced to improve treatment of drug-resistant forms of TB, diagnostic capability to identify drug resistance lags woefully behind. While significant mortality benefits exist for these newer drug regimens, implementing them without proper drug resistance diagnostic capacity could lead to development of more drug resistances and exhaust these new therapeutic tools. Moving forward, the roll-out of new TB drugs and regimens must be paired with implementation of diagnostics to ensure judicious use of resources and the best chance for improving TB worldwide.