We often take it for granted that any infections can be cured, and that all drugs and medicines will do what they are supposed to. But imagine this scenario: you are diagnosed with a life-threatening infectious disease that was once treatable with a course of antibiotics of six months, but that will now takes up to 2 years to treat. This is the reality for over half a million people living with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB).
The drugs we use to treat TB are five decades old and, over time, resistant forms of TB have emerged partly due to the difficulty and length of the standard TB treatment. The rise in resistance of microbes to the drugs we have to combat them, or ‘antimicrobial resistance’ (AMR), is one of the world’s most dangerous threats to public health. As the only drug-resistant infection to be spread through the air, TB is a particular menace. Drug companies must prioritise the development of new drugs to combat TB. To enable this to happen, innovative mechanisms are needed to unlock the development of such treatments at an affordable price.
The world is waking up to the threat of AMR. The UK has been at the forefront of efforts to galvanize action. We must now ensure that the world’s response is up to the scale of AMR and has TB eradication at its heart. This month, please start to organise an event around World TB Day (March 24th) to help launch our new campaign, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’. Invite your MP along, telling them about the dangers of AMR and drug-resistant TB.