Union welcomes launch of global collaboration to develop transformative treatment regimens for TB

The Union welcomes the announcement that a new global collaboration of philanthropic, non-profit and private sector organisations will work together to accelerate the development of novel treatment regimens capable of treating all forms of tuberculosis (TB).

By utilising the collective assets, resources and expertise of its members, the Project to Accelerate New Treatments for Tuberculosis (PAN-TB collaboration) aims to create novel ‘pan-TB’ treatment regimens comprised of medicines to which there is limited or no drug resistance, and that are safe, better-tolerated, shorter in duration and simpler to use than existing options. The medicines will undertake phase 2 clinical efficacy studies in order to identify promising regimens for further development.

The Union advocates for collaboration and new initiatives, such as the PAN-TB collaboration, that can offer solutions to address the complexities of TB treatment, including diagnosis and the treatment of drug-resistant TB. The Union also underlines the importance of collaboration with communities affected by TB in new initiatives to ensure people can access treatments in a sustainable and cost-effective way.

Dr Grania Brigden, Director of the Department of TB at The Union said: “It is encouraging to see stakeholders coming together across sectors to develop a pan-TB regimen.

“We look forward to new, evidence-based solutions to TB treatment and hope the regimens developed in the PAN-TB collaboration will be affordable and accessible to everyone who needs them. The PAN-TB collaboration must involve TB-affected countries and communities to ensure the new treatments appropriately respond to their needs.”

At the recent 146th Session of the WHO Executive Board, The Union similarly welcomed the WHO’s Global Research and Innovation Strategy for its needs-driven, evidence-based and inclusive focus.  

Even though TB is both preventable and treatable, in 2015 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that TB had replaced HIV/AIDS as the world’s leading infectious disease killer. Drug resistance remains another impediment to ending TB; WHO’s 2019 Global TB Report estimated that half a million people fell newly ill with drug-resistant TB in 2018.

Despite these facts, TB remains a low priority for commercial drug developers and the funding remains well below the US$ 2billion/year estimated to be required to develop the tools to end TB.

The PAN-TB collaboration, if it involves the TB community and addresses accessibility and the need for low-cost treatment, may have a pivotal role in helping achieve the research and development targets and develop the tools required to end TB.

The PAN-TB collaboration will initially comprise of the following members: Evotec, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., based in Japan, the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.