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Problems of multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant TB
  • Relevant BNF section: BNF 5.1.9


Worldwide, it is thought that in 2010 around 9 million people developed tuberculosis (TB) and around 1.5 million people died from the disease.1 Standard therapy (6 months of rifampicin and isoniazid, plus pyrazinamide and ethambutol for the first 2 months) is recommended for newly diagnosed active respiratory TB and is effective if taken correctly.2,3 However, its effectiveness can be compromised by a number of factors including poor adherence (e.g. because of the long duration of treatment, occurrence of unwanted effects) or inadequate drug levels for other reasons (e.g. drug-drug interactions, poor quality medicines).4,5 These factors also contribute to the development of resistance to one or more of the drugs. Multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB) is defined as TB with resistance to both rifampicin and isoniazid.1,6 Patients with MDR-TB are treated with a combination of first-line and second-line drugs based on the results of drug susceptibility testing.4 The treatment is longer, less effective, less tolerable, and more expensive than standard therapy, and involves the use of injectable drugs. Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB; defined as TB with resistance to rifampicin and isoniazid, and to at least one fluoroquinolone and one second-line injectable agent such as amikacin or capreomycin) is now emerging.7 Here we highlight patient groups at increased risk of MDR- and XDR-TB, and discuss how to investigate, manage and treat them.

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  • Relevant BNF section: BNF 5.1.9

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