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Child-friendly TB drug a ‘game-changer’

South African children at high risk of contracting TB could soon benefit from the development of a more palatable and child-friendly regimen, with a water soluble, raspberry flavoured version of an adult drug being a game-changer for both caregivers and the junior patients.

A paediatric formulation of the first-line TB drug rifapentine, designed for children by Indian drug manufacturer Lupin Ltd, has been approved for use in short-term TB prevention, and is now available to governments and global health procurers in more than 35 countries.

“It will be a lot easier to administer and definitely be more acceptable to children”, said Professor Gavin Churchyard, group CEO of the Aurum Institute.

TimesLIVE reports that the institute, which pioneered the introduction of shorter, rifapentine-based TB preventive treatment options, led the initiative funded by the global medicine and diagnostic funder Unitaid.

The introduction of the new drug means parents and caregivers will no longer need to crush pills intended for adults to approximate the proper dose for a child.

Churchyard said: “Historically, children have been marginalised in the fight against TB. We have not developed child-appropriate medicines for prevention or treatment until long after the adult versions reach the market. This innovation levels the playing field for our next generation and keeps them healthy.”

At about R125 to R300 per child, dependent on weight, the new formulation forms part of 3HP formulations – a short-term formulation for a combination of two drugs, rifapentine and isoniazid, taken once weekly for three months to get rid of latent TB infection.

He said the child-friendly formulation of isoniazid can be included with rifapentine to make the regimen fully child-friendly.

Treatment is recommended for children with latent TB infection, to prevent them from developing the disease.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that children aged two and above who are at risk of TB, through being immunocompromised or in close contact with someone with TB, be considered for the treatment of latent TB.

Tendayi Westerhof, director of the Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition, said the paediatric formulation will significantly improve access to TB prevention for children.

The coalition is part of the IMPAACT4TB consortium, led by the Aurum Institute in Africa, and delivers 3HPs to high-risk groups in 12 countries. Since inception in 2017, it has worked to overcome barriers to access patient-friendly formulations of rifapentine-based regimens, pushing manufacturers to develop and commercialise these products.

This resulted in the procurement of more than 4.2m patient courses of 3HP across 78 countries.

 

TimesLIVE article – New child-friendly TB prophylaxis, a ‘game changer’ for prevention (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Rifapentine plus isoniazid non-inferior to isoniazid in HIV related TB

 

Stellenbosch's $18.9m grant agreement to develop child-friendly treatments for TB

 

Diagnostic breakthroughs are not halting the rise of TB

 

What next for TB treatment after disappointing results for shortened regime?

 

 

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