- In its latest Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report, the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that, although TB-related mortality is declining, insufficient funding is a major barrier. The agency cited a $2 billion shortfall in investments aimed at combating TB.
- In 2013, approximately 9 million people became infected with TB, and 1.1 million people died as a result of their infections.
- TB requires daily treatment for six months. Because many patients are poor and can't comply with that regimen, multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB has become a serious problem. More drug development is needed.
The news from the WHO is not all bad. The TB-associated mortality rate fell by 45% between 1990 and 2013, and the prevalence rate fell by 41% during the same period. Nonetheless, more than a million people died from a disease that is both preventable and treatable. The WHO calls for an $8 billion investment to fund drug development—and there is currently a $2 billion shortfall.
When Janssen's Sirturo (bedaquiline) was approved by the FDA in 2012 for the treatment of MDR-TB, it was the first new TB approval in roughly 40 years. In April, Otsuka's Deltyba (delamanid) was approved in Europe.
The WHO has an ambitious goal: 95% reduction of TB-related mortality by 2035. An important part of that goal involves developing antibiotic drugs that can stop MDR-TB bacteria in their track, and developing drugs with less complex treatment regimens that make it possible for very poor people to comply with treatment.