A randomized, multi-country clinical trial testing a regimen for treating drug-resistant tuberculosis in less than a year against the up to two-year regimen recommended by the World Health Organization in 2011 guidelines, substantiates earlier observed findings showing comparable success rates between the two.
The STREAM trial (Standard Treatment Regimen of Anti-Tuberculosis drugs for patients with MDR-TB) was designed to more rigorously evaluate a nine-month regimen that had shown similar cure rates as those achieved through an 18-month to two-year course of treatment when used among patients in Bangladesh. In the largest multi-country trial of its kind, researchers randomly assigned more than 400 patients to the regimens. Results from the STREAM trial (Standard Treatment Regimen of Anti-Tuberculosis drugs for patients with MDR-TB were published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.
While the shorter treatment regimen diminishes the impacts of tuberculosis treatment on patients’ abilities to sustain work and family responsibilities and adhere to treatment, it still includes painful injections of toxic medicines with side effects that include permanent hearing loss. The trial’s authors note that ongoing research towards shorter, safer treatment regimens for drug-resistant tuberculosis that can bring similar results to those for tuberculosis that responds to first-line treatments remains “essential.”