EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE:
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
Aug. 15, 2002, 7 p.m., EST
UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School
UMDNJ Researchers Find Once-Weekly TB Treatment Regimen Stops
Researchers at the University
of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), in conjunction
with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have
confirmed that a once-weekly drug regimen for active tuberculosis
disease is both safe and effective.
The new data, released
by the Tuberculosis Trials Consortium, showed that a combination
of isoniazid and rifapentine given during the continuation phase
of therapy (from the ninth to 24th week of treatment)
as an alternative to the standard daily or twice-weekly dose of
the two drugs in a group of HIV-negative patients without signs
of advanced TB, said Dr. Lee B. Reichman, executive director of
the New Jersey Medical School National TB Center at UMDNJ, one of
23 sites in the CDC-supported study.
The results of the study
are published in the Aug. 17 edition of The Lancet.
"These findings represent
a significant breakthrough in the treatment and eradication of TB,
which remains a global threat," Dr. Reichman said. "Based on these
results, our case workers won't have to make as many house calls
or follow-up visits to patients to ensure their compliance in taking
the medication. The new regimen," Dr. Reichman added, "stands to
be not only potent, but more cost-effective."
In his book, TIMEBOMB:
The Global Epidemic of Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (McGraw-Hill
2002), Dr. Reichman is very critical of the pharmaceutical industry
and their role in developing new drugs for prevalent diseases, such
as TB. "What is most gratifying is that this is the result of a
federally funded multi-center trial of a new anti-TB drug, the first
new drug specifically for TB in more than 30 years."
For the national study,
more than 1,000 HIV-negative patients with active TB disease completed
eight weeks of intensive TB therapy with the four frontline drugs-isoniazid,
rifampin, pyrazinamide and ethambutol. They were then assigned to
one of two groups during the16-week continuation phase
of treatment. One trial group received isoniazid and rifapentine
weekly and the other group was given the same two drugs twice weekly.
Both groups were followed for two years.
According to the data,
nine percent of those who followed the once-a-week regimen either
relapsed or experienced treatment failure compared to six percent
of those on the twice-weekly regimen. When researchers reviewed
data of those patients without evidence of TB in their lungs, they
found the relapse rates were more comparable (about three percent
in both groups).
Based on that finding,
researchers were able to identify a group of HIV-negative patients
in whom the once-a-week therapy would be as successful as other
currently approved treatments.
To arrange an interview
with Dr. Reichman, call Tom Capezzuto (973) 972-7273.