November 17, 2023: Levofloxacin, an antibiotic, has emerged as a potent weapon against drug-resistant tuberculosis, offering a cost-effective solution with profound implications for global health. Two recent studies, one among South African children and another involving Vietnamese adults, have shown promising results against tuberculosis.
The first study, from the Desmond Tutu TB Centre at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University announced that the drug, levofloxacin, given once daily to children over six months, was extremely safe. Philippe Duneton, Executive Director of Unitaid, underscores the potential to protect millions of children from this devastating disease, emphasizing the cost-effectiveness of the medication.
Conducted independently, the two studies were presented at an international pneumology congress in Paris, revealing a 60% reduction in the risk of developing multidrug-resistant tuberculosis with levofloxacin treatment.
In the South Africa trial, 453 children were exposed to an adult with MDR-TB in their household were given levofloxacin. Only five developed the disease.
The second study, the V-QUIN trial, found that levofloxacin reduced the risk of adults and adolescents catching MDR-TB by 45%.
The findings offer hope against this particularly dangerous form of tuberculosis that resists conventional treatments, posing a substantial threat to global health.
While multidrug-resistant tuberculosis accounts for a small percentage of global cases (around 5%), it poses significant risks. Last year about 7.5 million people had tuberculosis (TB), the world’s second-most infectious killer, and multi-drug resistant form of the disease remains a health crisis, the WHO stated. In the context of tuberculosis being the second deadliest infectious disease globally, the emergence of a cost-effective preventive treatment like levofloxacin is welcome news.
Unlike many antibiotics, levofloxacin is easily accessible, raising hopes for widespread use in regions where tuberculosis is a prevalent health concern. The cost-effectiveness of this medication is a major factor, considering the challenges posed by the inaccessibility of conventional treatments in developing countries.
Levofloxacin emerges as a beacon of hope in the battle against drug-resistant tuberculosis. With its cost-effectiveness and potential to protect vulnerable populations globally, this antibiotic could revolutionize the approach to a disease that continues to pose a significant threat to public health.