Heavily burdened by rising multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), China now has nearly 120,000 new cases on the mainland each year, according to public health experts. That accounts for 25% of the world’s total per year, according to statistics from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. MDR-TB is defined as TB, which is resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, the most powerful first-line anti-TB drugs.
“MDR-TB needs more complicated diagnosis methods, longer and much more expensive treatment compared with common TB, which causes huge economic and human resource loss,” said Chen Mingting, deputy director of the National Center for Tuberculosis of China CDC. With no effective intervention, the number of MDR-TB patients in China is expected to reach 710,000 on the mainland by 2020, which would incur an economic loss of more than 99 billion yuan (about USD 16.1 billion) mostly in medical treatment, he said, citing previous studies by CDC. “That might upset social stability and harm economic development of the nation,” he said.
Currently, the Chinese government provides free treatment for common TB but not for MDR-TB, which costs much more for treatment. To help enrich drug choices for MDR-TB, the State Food and Drug Administration has approved the new medicine Sirturo, by Xi’an Janssen Pharmaceutical Ltd.
Worldwide, about 1/3 of the total population is infected with the bacterium that causes TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and nearly 4% of those newly infected are initially resistant to multiple drugs (primary drug resistance), according to the World Health Organization. That means that resistant forms of the disease are being transmitted directly from people to people, medical experts said.
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