Major pharma cos commences human trials of seven candidate TB drugsWith the goal of making treatment of tuberculosis more affordable to the common man, some major pharma companies in the country with the support of the government machinery, have commenced clinical trials of as many as seven TB drug candidates according to Union health ministry.

"So far no new drug could be developed. However till very recently, seven candidate TB drugs are undergoing clinical trials. These include gatifloxacin, moxifloxacin, diarylquinolone, TMC207, PA-824, OPC-67693, SQ 109 and LL-3858," an official said. At the global front, it is hoped that at least one new drug would be ready for registration by 2010. Of the others, which are in various stages of development at least some are expected to move forward in the pipeline, he said while detailing the government efforts to contain TB in the country.

The LL-3858 molecule has been developed as an investigational new drug for tuberculosis by Lupin under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research's (CSIR) New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI). The company has successfully completed phase I studies for the drug and has submitted phase I report to the DCGI.

The TMC207 molecule, developed by Johnson and Johnson for the treatment of multi-drug resistant TB, has successfully completed its phase I trial. The phase II trials, which are expected to commence shortly, will be held in collaboration with Tuberculosis Research Centre, Chennai and AIIIMS, New Delhi.

"The government is encouraging the development of newer drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis including multi drug resistant TB. The Department of Health Research is giving support to the companies and scientists in this regard, as the country wants to contain TB," he said.

An amount of Rs 276.25 crore will be spent this year under the National TB Control Programme (NTCP), which was launched in 1962. The strategy lays emphasis on increasing the cure rate of infectious patients to above 85 per cent. Hence lot of stress was being laid on new drugs to make the treatment more affordable, he added.