Issue Date: January 16, 2017
Girl sues India to get TB drug
A teenager fighting extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis is asking an Indian court to force the national government to lift its restrictions on bedaquiline. This antibiotic is made by Johnson & Johnson and in 2012 became the first new treatment for TB to be introduced in more than four decades. India has imposed strict controls on bedaquiline because medical experts believe overuse of older antibiotics has resulted in a spate of drug-resistant TB in the country. India says the restricted use of bedaquiline will preserve its effectiveness. It is available only in five of India’s 29 states and is available only as a last resort. It is given to patients on a case-by-case basis if the pharmaceutical company agrees after considering the patient’s situation. The antibiotic, which is the first to inhibit the proton pump of the tuberculosis bacterium’s ATP synthase enzyme, is not manufactured in India. The government has 300 doses of bedaquiline available under a pilot project in five states, but the 18-year-old girl doesn’t qualify for one.
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