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FDA approves experimental tuberculosis treatment that carries increased risk of death

January 6, 2013
Antonia
1/5/2013
Source …..

Lungs-RespiratoryBedaquiline, a drug developed by Johnson & Johnson for the treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, relies on a new mechanism of action that blocks an energy-carrying enzyme necessary for the growth of TB bacteria. Unfortunately, this medicine comes with some worrying side effects.

High liver toxicity, heart condition and death are shrugged off as inconclusive

Although the drug is effective according to preliminary tests, it carries an unusually high risk of liver toxicity, heart problems and even death. According to FDA advisers, patients who took Bedaquiline showed increased levels of liver enzymes consistent with liver toxicity, and long QT levels, which are evidence of a rare heart condition characterized by abnormal heartbeat. Long QT Syndrome can cause palpitations, fainting and sudden death.

Although the patients who took Bedaquiline were more likely to die than the patients who followed other treatments, Chrispin Kambili, the doctor in charge of Bedaquiline for J&J’s Janssen Therapeutics unit, said that his company was unable to find a common pattern to explain the high death rates and that the FDA advisers did not offer any “unifying findings”.

Consequently, the FDA approved the drug on Monday, right before New Year’s Eve, with financial analysts estimating that Bedaquiline will register annual sales of $300, a relatively modest amount according to industry standards.

CDC reports show that 1.4 million people died from TB in 2011 alone, with 9 million people have been infected. Other sources show that a new TB infection occurs every second, although the number of world infections has been steadily decreasing since 2006. Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis affects about 650,000 people each year.

Natural treatments for tuberculosis

Tuberculosis can kill very quickly, and while most people prefer to use conventional medical treatments, there are holistic, natural health remedies available for those who seek alternatives. Since tuberculosis is caused by bacteria, natural treatments focus primarily on strengthening immunity and secondly on relieving the symptoms of infection.

According to the International Journal of Health research, consuming a handful of barberry berries each day can help alleviate TB symptoms thanks to a compound called berberine, which is a powerful bactericide. The same editorial mentions that diets low in specific nutrients, like vitamin B12, vitamin C and vitamin D, can weaken the body in its struggle with TB.

Getting plenty of sunlight (also known as heliotherapy) is crucial in boosting immunity. Before the development of modern drugs, sunbathing was one of the most widespread treatments against non-pulmonary TB, for two main reasons: UV light and hot temperatures can kill bacteria, and the natural production of vitamin D supports immunity.

Horsetail has also been found effective against TB. Since TB causes a decrease in silica levels, which is needed in small amounts for strong bones and joints, wound healing, and immunity, horsetail can help replenish silica and speed up the healing of pulmonary damage.

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