New hope for drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) patients in Nigeria

Nigeria is the first country in West Africa to provide people with tuberculosis (TB) access to the groundbreaking new BPaL treatment under operational research conditions. This six-month, three-drug,  oral treatment is meant for people with advanced forms of drug resistant TB and is expected to have a higher success rate than previous treatments with 4-6 medicines which lasted at least 18 months.

The BPaL regimen (consisting of the drugs pretomanid, bedaquiline and linezolid) was developed by TB Alliance and is implemented in Nigeria by the National TB Program (NTP), with support from KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation (KNCV).

“We are excited about this novel treatment option which will hopefully presents much relief to our patients. Winning the battle against tuberculosis remains our mission as KNCV” Dr. Falokun Victor, KNCV Project Manager, BPaL Nigeria

The BPaL regimen has been approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the Drug Controller General of India and recommended by the WHO under operational research conditions.

“The BPaL operational research is an intervention coming in at the right time to alleviate the suffering experienced by patients managed using the individualized regimen of 18 months with 4-6 different medicines. This will go a long way to provide quality treatment care and support for DR-TB patients across the country” Dr Babawale Victor TB specialist and research coordinator (NTBLCP).

The medical team at ATBUTH preparing to administer the BPaL regimen.

New hope for people with drug resistant TB

Nigeria is ranked seventh out of the 30 highest burden countries for tuberculosis and second in Africa. In the year 2019, an estimated 440,000 new cases occurred (of these, 46,000 were also HIV-positive) and about 150,000 Nigerians died from tuberculosis (TB) according to WHO.

TB accounts for more than 10% of all deaths in Nigeria. Every hour, nearly 30 people die from the disease, despite effective treatments being available.

Most people can be cured of TB with a standard, inexpensive treatment. However, for people with advanced resistance conventional drugs do not work. Treatment is much longer (18 months) and less effective. According to the WHO, the cure rate of these forms of resistant TB worldwide is only 57 percent as of 2020. However the new BPaL regimen (6 months, all oral) has shown a cure rate of 90 percent in  this patient group, according to Phase 3 trial results published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

BPaL roll-out and scale-up

The official roll-out in Nigeria started second week of April in Bauchi state with three other states namely, Lagos, Adamawa and Kano to follow.

Read more about Ruth Iliya, the first TB patient in Nigeria to be treated with the BPaL regimen.

KNCV has been fighting TB since its establishment in 1903. Over the past 117 years, the organization has acquired indispensable knowledge and experience in the field of effective TB control, resulting in pre-elimination in the Netherlands and significant contributions to global evidence generation, policy development and TB program implementation worldwide.

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Tuberculosis is still one of the major causes of preventable death in the world and claims over 4000 lives a day, leading to over 1,5 million deaths a year.

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