Toxic tuberculosis drug

Friday, January 02th, 2015 by hinrich

Structure of TMC207/R207910

I admit I am biased. I have contributed to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of bedaqueline and wish the drug to become a successful aid in curing patients with MDR-TB. Therefore I was concerned and curious to learn more when I saw this heading twice on 31st of December:

"New treatment strategy allows lower doses of toxic tuberculosis drug without compromising potency"

Of course, learning that a person is working in / for the pharmaceutical industry triggers a broad spectrum of associations with different people. Similarly, for me reading characterizations such as "toxic tuberculosis drug" or "higher toxic doses of bedaquiline" bring up associations of bad news as you would not want people to be treated with "toxic drugs".

After reading the articles I came to realize that the choice of words for the heading might have been too strong as also one of the authors (Dr. Gupta) states in an interview: "In a phase 2 trial involving patients with advanced MDR-TB, a significantly higher number of participants receiving bedaquiline died than those receiving placebo although the causes of mortality were not directly attributable to the drug."

Over the next two days I stumbled across two more sites referring to the same research. Here the headings read a little differently: "Hypertension Medication May Enhance Tuberculosis Treatment" and "Study indicates new strategy to treat tuberculosis".

Choosing the right words for a heading sure is difficult - especially when they concern words that elicit an emotional response in some readers. To me "toxic" is one of them.

Here are the articles I am referring to:

Posted in Tuberculosis