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New Diagnostic Test For Drug-Resistant TB Allows 'New Approach' To Fight Disease

The widespread incidence of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) “calls for a new approach to TB in the developing world,” a Bloomberg editorial states. A “breakthrough test,” called Xpert MTB/RIF, “makes mass screening [for drug-resistant TB] feasible,” according to the editorial, which notes the test, developed by “California-based Cephied Inc. in collaboration with the non-profit Foundation for Innovative Diagnostics with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” detects resistance to the TB drug rifampicin, provides results in two hours, and can be used without advanced laboratory facilities.

“In mid-June, UNITAID, a global health organization housed at the World Health Organization and financed mainly by airline ticket taxes, and the Stop TB Partnership, a public-private umbrella group also housed at the WHO, allocated $40 million to deploy the test in 20 countries,” according to Bloomberg, which adds, “This is an important step to making it universally available.” “Ideally, TB patients found to have mutant strains would then receive the right treatment,” the editorial continues. It concludes, “Controlling drug-resistant TB is expensive, but so is inaction. … Attacking drug-resistant TB is not so much a cost as an investment” (7/9).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.