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Stop TB Partnership Has Provided Treatments for Ten Million People in Six Years

Securing its place as an indispensable defence against the development and spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), the Stop TB Partnership announced today that its drug supply arm, the Global Drug Facility, has provided anti-TB drug treatments for 10 million people to 78 countries in the past six years.

"This is an important milestone, because getting anti-TB drugs to people who need them and making sure they complete their treatment is the only way to break the back of the epidemic. It is also the best weapon we have for preventing a potentially massive new epidemic of drug-resistant TB", said Dr Marcos Espinal, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership.

"Together with countries and partners, we are moving steadily towards our target of treating 50 million TB patients between 2006 and 2015," he added.

There were 8.8 million new cases of TB in 2005 and 1.6 million deaths from the disease. In the majority of cases TB is drug-sensitive, meaning it can be cured with four standard, or first-line, drugs. Failing to complete treatment with these drugs is the first step towards development of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). Use of counterfeit or poor quality drugs also can result in development of this multidrug-resistant form of the disease.

MDR-TB takes longer to treat and can only be cured with second-line drugs, which are more expensive and have more and more serious side effects. When these second-line drugs are misused or mismanaged, extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) can develop. Because XDR-TB is resistant to both first- and second-line drugs, treatment options are very limited, and the risk of death is therefore extremely high. Both MDR-TB and XDR-TB can be spread from person to person.

The 10 million mark was reached with first-line treatments for people with drug-sensitive TB. Since late 2006, the Global Drug Facility has also been supplying countries with the second-line drugs
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