With pharmaceutical companies no longer interested in TB & infectious diseases, the pipeline for new TB drugs threatens to run dryBetter data has revealed more than half a million more tuberculosis (TB) cases than previously thought, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report released yesterday (22 October).


TB remains one of the world’s deadliest communicable disease and in 2013 killed about 16 percent of the estimated nine million people who developed the disease globally, according to the WHO’s latest Global TB Report.


However the report notes decreases in TB deaths and new cases globally, which South African Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said was encouraging.


While South Africa has met Millennium Development Goal targets to reduce new TB cases, the WHO estimates that about one in every 100 South Africans will develop the disease each year. The country – like Africa generally – is also unlikely to meet international targets to halve TB-related deaths by next year.


Treatment gaps also persist. South Africa saw a slight increase in multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB cases diagnosed as compared to the previous year, less than half of the about 26,000 South Africans diagnosed with MDR-TB in 2013 were ever treated.


Pharma pulls back as world risks ‘post-antibiotic era’

South Africa’s MDR-TB burden ranks ninth in the world. Almost half the world’s countries have now recorded at least one case of extensively drug-resistant TB, which is more difficult to treat than MDR-TB.


As the world grows in dire need of new drugs, less money is being devoted to find them, notes a report released by the US health activist organisation Treatment Action Group (TAG) yesterday.


Globally, TB research funding has increased by about R441 million since 2012 but in its latest report TAG cautions that this increase only brings TB research funding in line with 2011 levels.


According to report author Mike Frick, increased investment masks a dangerous trend among companies that are halting infectious diseases research as part of what TAG dubbed the “the pharmaceutical industry’s long goodbye to TB research”.

“There’s been an erosion of pharmaceutical company investment in TB research,” said Frick, who added that historically the pharmaceutical industry has been well placed to initiate early clinical trials of new TB drugs albeit through public-private partnerships. “We’ve lost three companies in the past three years and we’re down to just three remaining.”


“When we finally have ambitious goals to eliminate TB by 2035, we’re not buying the research today that we are going to need to achieve them,” he added.


This week, drug regulator the Medicines Control Council approved the first new TB drug invented in more 40 years, bedaquiline, for MDR-TB treatment in HIV-negative adults.


While there are concerns about bedaquiline’s price, it should reach 9000 MDR-TB patients in the next two years.


Without pharmaceutical company investment in new drugs, Frick warns there are few new drugs in the pipeline to follow new drugs like bedaquiline and delamanid, which the country is expected to introduce following WHO-issued guidance.


Companies’ divestment in new antibiotics like these comes after WHO warnings that the world could ender a “post-antibiotic era” this century in which common illnesses could turn deadly as they become resistant to antibiotics.


South Africa leads BRICS in TB research funding

Meanwhile, South Africa leads the BRICS countries in funding TB research and in 2013 spent about R10 million on the field of study – about R413,000 more than Brazil. India is also funding similar work while not much is known about the investment of China and Russia, according to Frick, who added Brics should take a leading role in the fight against TB.


“We are scaling up because we believe that being one of the high burden countries with a lot of infrastructure for research, there is a lot of research to be done in South Africa,” said Motsoaledi while on a WHO teleconference yesterday. He added the country is planning to scale up TB funding for local bodies like the Medical Research Council.


South Africa also funds 84 percent of its TB programme. This level of funding is roughly consistent with the proportion of the country’s HIV programme that is domestically funded.


This article is courtesy of Health-e News Service.

HIV messages should include MSM

Published in Featured Articles
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 10:49

hiv preventionA survey of 1 700 South African men from the Eastern Cape and  KwaZulu-Natal revealed that one in 10 men has been sexually assaulted by another man, while about one in 20 report having consensual sexual contact with other men – many who are at the same time in sexual relationships with women, according to research.


The results are part of a survey of adult South African men published in the journalPLOS Medicine.

According to researchers these findings highlight the need for HIV prevention messages regarding men who have sex with men in South Africa to be mainstreamed with prevention messages for the general population. It also means that sexual health interventions and HIV prevention interventions for South African men should explicitly address male-on-male sexual violence.


The researchers, led by Rachel Jewkes from the South African Medical Research Council, reached these conclusions by conducting a survey involving 1 700 adult men from randomly selected households in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The survey used technology that created a completely private and anonymous environment and included questions about the respondents’ lifetime history of same-sex experiences.


The authors found that 92 (5.4 percent of participants) reported consensual sexual activity (such as anal or oral sex or masturbation) with another man at some time during their life; 9.6 percent (162 men) reported that they had been forced to have sex with another man and three percent reported that they had perpetrated sexual violence against another man.


Furthermore, most of the men who reported consensual sex with men also stated that they had a current female partner. Men who reported consensual oral or anal sex with a man were also more likely to be HIV positive than men without such a history.


“Our estimates of any consensual sexual activity between men, including consensual oral or anal sex, are consistent with reports from other developing countries although we were unable to locate comparable population-based data from Africa,” the authors say.


“Male–female concurrency was common among [men who have sex with men] in these data, suggesting that prevention messaging about the risks associated with male to male sex needs to be mainstreamed into HIV prevention messaging for the general population in a way that does not invite homophobic stigmatisation.


“Also required are further efforts to promote access to post-rape services for male survivors of sexual violence,” the authors report.


In an accompanying comment, Jerome Singh from the University of Kwazulu-Natal, says who was not involved in the study: “[This] paper highlights several important findings, including that HIV prevalence amongst South African [men who have sex with men] also has public health implications for South African women, given high levels of bisexuality and sexual concurrency amongst South African [men who have sex with men].


“Assuming these findings are generalisable to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, addressing the health needs of African [men who have sex with men] will require policymakers to meaningfully address significant socio-cultural and legal barriers that hinder access by [men who have sex with men] to HIV-related health services,” Singh adds.


Source: EurekAlert!



The Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies, the Centre for the Study of AIDS, the Centre for Human Rights, the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, and the Department of Philosophy (all at the University of Pretoria) present: Beverly Ditsie and screening of her film, "Simon and I".


"Simon and I" is a South African film that recounts the lives of two giants in the South African gay and lesbian liberation movement, Simon Nkoli and the film maker herself, Beverly Ditsie. This is the story of their lives, their meeting, and their efforts to get sexual orientation into the new South African Bill of Rights.


Bev DitsieBeverly Ditsie is a Soweto-born director, writer, filmmaker and activist. She will be present at this screening to give a short talk about her journey as a human rights activist and to answer relevant questions about the film.







Date: 17 May 2013

Time: 13:30-15:30

Venue: Merensky Library Auditorium, Main Level, University of Pretoria

RSVP: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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