Thursday, September 06, 2012

Blog #2: Second-Line Drugs and Drug Resistant TB, 9/6/12

               A new study published by the highly accredited medical journal The Lancet is saying that certain strands of Tuberculosis are showing resistance to various second-line drugs used to treat them. Second-line drug meaning a therapeutic agent that is not the first choice normally used to treat the disease in question. The study was completed over a three year period using these 8 international countries: Estonia, Latvia, Peru, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, and Thailand.  Participants chosen had already been diagnosed with some form of multi-drug resistant Tuberculosis and were tested against 11 first and second line drugs to compare the results and see which drug has more of a reaction to each patient. The results showed that 43.7% of the 1,278 participants had some sort of resistance to the second-line drug. It also showed that 20% of the participants had resistance to injectable forms of the second-line drugs. This creates a problem in the sense that it is not just one form of treatment that is showing resistance, it is apparently several forms.
                The best interpretation provided as to what this means is that people trying to treat Tuberculosis with second-line drugs were making themselves more resistant to the medications. This poses a serious threat because drug resistant Tuberculosis is rather difficult to control much less treat. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Tuberculosis is an air borne pathogen meaning you do not have to touch a single person to acquire this disease. It is also sometimes hard to recognize because the systems may mimic something like a common cold. Someone could be transmitting the drug and not even be aware. To learn that individuals are not only carrying this disease, but are carrying drug resistant forms of this disease means that It has potential to be a global epidemic if it is not monitored closely. The New York Times also published an article about this issue stating that the most drug resistant forms of Tuberculosis find host in alcoholics, prisoners, heavy smokers, the unemployed and homeless, and people with HIV. The commonality lies in the compromised immune systems of these individuals giving pathway for this diseases entry. They go on to say that curing drug resistant Tuberculosis costs almost 200 times that of regular Tuberculosis. So on top of the already apparent health issue this introduces, there is also a huge economic burden that could be placed on the world if an outbreak were to occur. 

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