Survey Finds 1 In 10 New Cases Of TB In China Are Drug-Resistant

“One in 10 cases of tuberculosis in China cannot be treated by the most commonly-used drugs, driven by a lack of testing and misuse of medicine, according to a national survey that showed for the first time the size of the drug-resistant epidemic,” the Associated Press reports (Wong, 6/7). “‘In 2007, one third of the patients with new cases of tuberculosis and one half of the patients with previously treated tuberculosis had drug-resistant disease,’ said the study in the New England Journal of Medicine,” Agence France-Presse reports, adding, “Even more, the prevalence of multi-drug resistant [tuberculosis (MDR-TB)] in new cases (5.7 percent) was nearly twice the global average, said the study” (6/6).

“The survey of more than 4,000 Chinese patients, conducted in 2007, follows a warning from the [WHO] last year that multi drug-resistant and extensively drug-resistant forms of TB are also spreading at an alarming rate in Europe,” Reuters writes. “Health experts are calling for faster testing of the nine million people worldwide estimated to be infected with tuberculosis each year,” the news service adds (Kelland, 6/6). In an editorial accompanying the study, Richard Chaisson and Eric Nuermberger of the Center for Tuberculosis Research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine examine how “resistance became so prevalent in China” and discuss the “unmet need” for treatment (6/7).