Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 killers of children. Despite the extent of the problem, appropriate treatments for children simply do not exist. A new partnership, formed in late 2012 and signed in 2013, could catalyze the change needed to stop this neglect. TB Alliance, with UNITAID, USAID, the World Health Organization, and others, have embarked on an effort to increase availability and access to appropriate and affordable pediatric TB treatments, while working to speed the time in which new and better drugs will be available for this vulnerable population.
TB Alliance's work in pediatric TB tackles key issues that currently impede the development and supply of optimal medicines for children. This effort seeks to create an active, competitive, and sustainable market for existing and future child-appropriate TB drugs, helping to end the terrible neglect of children with this disease.
TB Alliance and its partners are working toward an initial set of goals, which include development of first-line treatments for children, including newborns, in the correct WHO-recommended doses and in formulations that are easier to administer to children. Today, healthcare providers often give children drugs made for adults that must be cut or crushed, leading to poor outcomes and the development of drug-resistant TB. The availability of drugs in the correct dosages and formulations for children will improve treatment today, while paving the way for more rapid introductions of new child-friendly formulations for tomorrow. Critically, much work needs to be done to quantify the TB market and understand the dynamics around regimen uptake to catalyze manufacturers to produce the needed pediatric treatments.
Over the past year, substantial progress was made. Some notable achievements include convening leading pediatric TB experts to help generate concrete steps to better quantify the pediatric TB market; conducting several research studies to ascertain the current state of the market; and entering into a collaboration (the first of what's expected to be several) with Svizera Europe to facilitate the commercialization of a correctly-dosed child-friendly regimen.