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Study finds multiple neglected tropical diseases effectively treated with drugs
Date:10/25/2007

The neglected tropical diseases are a group of 13 infectious diseases, including elephantiasis, hookworm, African sleeping sickness and trachoma, which affect more than 1 billion people worldwide, most of whom live in extreme poverty. In a study published in the most recent Journal of the American Medical Association, Madhuri Reddy, M.D., M.Sc., a geriatrician at Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston, says that treating two or more of them simultaneously for only pennies per dose can facilitate treatment of these diseases.

At least two of the most prevalent neglected tropical diseases can be potentially treated simultaneously with existing oral drug treatments, writes Dr. Reddy, facilitating effective and efficient treatment. Increasing awareness about neglected tropical diseases, their global impact, and the availability of oral drug treatments is an essential step in controlling these diseases.

While inexpensive oral medications are available to treat these conditions, the drugs are often not accessible to the people affected by them, most of them living without access to health care in remote areas on less than $2 per day. These diseases are perpetuated by unsafe water, poor sanitation, and substandard housing conditions. Infection with neglected tropical diseases can lead to lifelong disabilities, disfigurement and, if left untreated, early death. Together, they contribute to nearly 500,000 deaths per year, a number almost as high as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria.

Despite the huge impact of neglected tropical diseases worldwide, says Dr. Reddy, the ability to treat them is largely unknown in the medical community, and there is little public awareness of and response to this problem.

Dr. Reddy and her colleagues reviewed 29 randomized control trials of oral drug treatments for neglected tropical diseases. They found that existing oral medications can be used to treat two or more of the most prevalent neglected tropical diseases simultaneously and t
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Contact: Scott Edwards
edwards@hrca.harvard.edu
617-363-8385
Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research
Source:Eurekalert

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