For the first time ever, the US Food & Drug Administration has approved a drug that has been developed and registered by a non-profit organisation. The drug, Pretomanid, is intended to push back tuberculosis even further. This is wonderful news for tuberculosis patients who have become resistant to standard drugs. This group of patients has been growing across the globe. Their chances of survival should now improve.
Among the parties that developed Pretomanid was the non-profit organisation TB Alliance. This international alliance, which has the aim of developing new and cheaper tuberculosis medication for vulnerable populations in poor regions, was founded with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and falls under the Product Development Partnerships (PDP) Fund, a programme administered by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.
Resistance on the rise
Every year, 9.5 million people become infected, 1 million of them children. Infection often results in death. With over 1.6 million deaths each year, tuberculosis is the deadliest infectious disease in the world. Treatment is often a lengthy, relatively expensive and complex process. Some patients are required to take 40 pills in a single day. Many patients in poor countries cannot afford this and end their treatment prematurely. This has led to increased resistance. The new drugs is aimed at treating those who have the highly resistant type of tuberculosis.
TB Alliance was founded in 2000 to find an affordable and effective solution for treating tuberculosis. Their successful approach of working together closely with businesses, pharmacists, NGOs and knowledge institutions meant that Pretomanid could be developed after a shorter research period and at lower cost.
The approval of the Food & Drug Administration could lead to the drug being included in the essential drug list of the World Health Organization (WHO). This would allow it to be brought to market much more quickly than usual, at a relatively low price.