Magazine article Drug Topics

Combination Treatment Now Available for TB

Magazine article Drug Topics

Combination Treatment Now Available for TB

Article excerpt

Rifater, a triple-combination tablet containing rifampin 120 mg, isoniazid 50 mg, and pyrazinamide 300 mg, is now available from Marion Merrell Dow Inc. TB specialists such as Lee B. Reichman, M.D., M.P.H., hope that the combining of three commonly used TB drugs in one tablet will increase patient compliance and curb the spread of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).

"Patients taking [the combination drug properly] cannot become resistant," said Reichman, executive director of the National Tuberculsis Center in Newark, N.J., and professor of medicine at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School. This should be the standard of care," he said.

Noncompliance and improper use of TB drugs are the driving forces be:: hind the explosive growth of MDR-TB. In New York, the state with the highest rate of MDR-TB, 42.5% of cases are resistant to standard treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Of patients developing MDR-TB, the CDC says fatality rates are as high as 70% to 90%.

With the availability of Rifater, most TB patients can take one drug once a day. Some patients will require the addition of ethambutol or streptomycin. Rifater is dosed according to body weight, and patients must take several tablets at a time. For patients 15 years of age or older who weigh less than 44 kg, four tablets per day are recommended; five tablets per day are recommended for those weighing 44 kg-55 kg, and six tablets per day is the recommended dose I for patients who weigh more than 55 kg. …

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