Unfortunately, India is the world's TB epicentre with over 2.5 million people living with the disease every year. As per World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Report 2015, for the year 2014, deaths due to TB were estimated in India to be 2,20,000 which is higher than any other country. 

Source: b"India is the world's TB epicentre/Source: Reuters"

So to tackle this menace, ahead of World Tuberculosis Day on March 24, the government has launched a drug called Bedaquiline (aka miracle drug) to specifically treat multi-drug resistant TB. It is the first TB drug to be approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in over 40 years. 

What is this new drug and what does it’s introduction mean for India?

This drug is manufactured by the Janssen- the pharma arm of Johnson & Johnson. In coordinated programme between the Indian government and Janssen, the drug has been made available to 600 patients in six public hospitals across the country.

Source: b'Source: Twitter'

Why is it called a 'miracle drug'?

Named 'Bedaquiline' (trade name Sirturo), the drug is perhaps the first in decades to have a potential to dramatically improve multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) treatment outcomes, and reduce the number of people who die from the disease, says a report by Times Of India.

How does the drug work?

With a novel mechanism of action, Bedaquiline inhibits a critical enzyme – ATP synthase, required for protein synthesis of mycobacteria. Along with it, it has the ability to rapidly kill TB bacteria, which helps kill the TB causing bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis), eliminating it from the patient’s sputum to make him non-infectious, says this study by Healthsite. Therefore, this drug has a huge potential and can have a huge positive impact on controlling the spread of TB in the community.

What will be the cost of the drug?

Janssen has a tiered-pricing structure for the sale of this drug and is believed to be offering the drug for $3,000 in middle-income countries and $900 in low-income countries.

In an interview, Sanjiv Navangul, Janssen India MD told TOI:

"We will sit across the table (with the government) to discuss pricing. This (therapy) is not a business (for the company) and not about revenues, and we will be flexible about pricing. Recognising the high burden of disease, India will be placed in the lowest-price tier for Bedaquiline.

(Feature Image Source: PTI)