Drug-Resistant TB: A Global Crisis

Media Call with the WHO on March 16, 2004

March 10, 2004


Release of startling findings from the latest World Health Organization report on multi-drug-resistant strains in tuberculosis (MDR-TB):

  • A total of 300,000 cases; most exist where HIV is spreading fastest
  • 79% of MDR TB are “super strains” resistant to 3 of 4 first-line drugs
  • TB patients in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union are 10 times more likely to have MDR-TB.

Often fatal, MDR-TB requires aggressive 2-year treatment that, when successful, costs up to $250,000 per patient in the U.S. Drugs developed decades ago are no match against an estimated 90,000 different resistant strains. MDR-TB is most worrisome in places where American trade and security priorities dovetail: Russia, India and China.

The WHO and the TB Alliance will host a teleconference for U.S. media to discuss the comprehensive three-pronged strategy for the MDR-TB solution:

  • Expansion of existing treatment capacity
  • Policy initiatives to build on President Bush’s $15 billion pledge to fight AIDS & TB
  • Public-private partnerships to develop novel drugs that save 65% of healthcare expenses


Tuesday 16th March 2004 at 9:30am EST (U.S.)

* Please note that this report is under a global media embargo until 12:01 am GMT Tuesday, March 16
(7:01 pm EST, Monday, March 15)


Participants on the phone briefing include:

  • Dr. Jack Chow, Assistant Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Representative Sherrod Brown, People of Ohio's 13th District (D-OH)
  • Dr. Ken Castro, Assistant Surgeon General, U.S. Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Dr. Maria C. Freire, CEO, Global Alliance for TB Drug Development
  • Dr. Anne Peterson, Assistant Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Global Health


To participate in this media phone briefing, please dial the following U.S. toll free number: 888-928-9122 (enter pass code: MDRTB).

Further instructions on how to participate on the Q&A with the speakers will be issued during the call.