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Tuberculosis Experts Outline Proposals to Speed Up Drug Development

Proposals to accelerate the development of tuberculosis (TB) drugs were outlined today at the conclusion of a two-day symposium titled "No Time to Wait," convened// in New York this week by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors with the support of Howard P. Milstein and Weill Cornell Medical College's Abby and Howard P. Milstein Program in Chemical Biology.

The symposium brought together more than 100 TB specialists, drug developers and regulators, policy makers, donors and activists to outline practical proposals to fill the gaps in TB drug research and development (R&D).

"We are failing people with TB," said Dr. Tido von Schoen-Angerer, Director of MSF's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. "Diagnosing and treating TB is one of the greatest challenges facing health care providers around the world. Things are going from bad to worse with multi-drug resistant TB and even extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB, particularly in settings with high HIV prevalence. The urgency for new tools could not be greater - there is no time to wait."

TB kills nearly two million people per year, primarily because of inadequate diagnostic and treatment tools. While roughly one drug for HIV has been developed each year since the start of the epidemic 25 years ago, the latest novel TB drug in today's standard therapy was developed in the 1960s.

Basic science is not being translated into new TB drugs needed to improve treatment, according to an MSF analysis of the TB drug pipeline. There are not enough promising drugs in the pipeline and serious funding gaps prevent the development of candidate drug compounds through to clinical trials.

Resistance to TB drugs is growing at a rapid pace, with 450,000 new cases of drug-resistant TB detected each year. The recent detection of hundreds of cases of XDR-TB, which is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to treat, adds further urgency to the situatio
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