SA government to introduce new TB drugs

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South Africa will soon start using a less toxic and more effective drug for treatment of Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

The Department of Health has announced that it will replace current injectable drugs with the new drug Bedaquiline, which has fewer side effects.

The currently used drugs have severe side effects, which include hearing loss and kidney failure.

Civil society organisations have welcomed the move but called on pharmaceutical companies to drop the price.

Deputy Director General in the Health Department Doctor Yogan Pillay says, “We are currently paying about $750 per patient right. That’s a lot of money as you can tell. If you compare that to a year’s supply of antiretroviral, it’s significantly more expensive but of course we have many more HIV positive patients on antiretroviral compared to MDR and XDR patients but still it’s a high price.”