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Trial of 'Miracle drug' for resistant TB to commence today

Bedaquiline, a 'miracle drug' for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis MDR-TB and extensively-drug resistant TB (XDR-TB), will be available from Monday in six public hospitals in India.

The treatment has been rolled out under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme and is part of coordinated programme between the government and Johnson & Johnson.

It must be noted that India has the world's largest TB cases as it accounts for around 23 percent of global cases and most deaths ? 220,000 in 2014 - from the bacterial lung disease that spreads through sneezing and coughing. In India, an estimated 2.2 million people suffer from TB, with more than 70,000 MDR-TB patients.

Sanjiv Navangul, Janssen India MD, said the drug will be rolled out through the government-run control programme, for which 600 patients will be enrolled across India, over the next 6-9 months, after the required tests, and upon the review of clinical data after two years, the access programme will be expanded nationwide.

There is global concern on the pricing of new TB drugs, including Bedaquiline and Delamanid. According to World Health Organization (WHO), the existing cost per patient for MDR-TB is usually $5,000-10,000, around 10 times that of treatment for TB, which burdens the already-struggling national control programmes.

Janssen is believed to be providing the drug through a tiered-pricing structure, for example $3,000 in middle-income countries and $900 in low-income countries.