For a long time the medical community believed that tuberculosis was on the decline, controlled successfully by modern medicine. However, in fact, nine million new cases of active tuberculosis are recorded every year, and the WHO estimates that around 1.5 million people die of it annually – people who have no access to modern medicine. This is because tuberculosis (TB) is primarily a disease that affects the poor.
Through its HealthCare subgroup, Bayer is involved in two initiatives to combat tuberculosis in developing countries. First, the company supports the “Stop TB Partnership” of the World Health Organization (WHO), which has set itself the goal of halving the number of people suffering from TB worldwide by 2015.
And since 2012, Bayer has also been cooperating with other pharmaceutical companies and research institutions and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop new treatments. One major goal is to reduce the treatment period from the usual six months or more: many patients are currently breaking treatment off or not keeping strictly to it, which is resulting in the formation of resistant bacteria.
In the search for a combination therapy with already developed active substances, Bayer HealthCare has made available its broad-spectrum antibiotic with the active substance moxifloxacin to the non-profit organisation Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) for clinical studies. The REMoxTB study – the largest clinical study related to TB therapy – ran from 2008 to 2012, aiming to demonstrate that the TB therapy can be shortened from six to four months by adding moxifloxacin to the treatment regimen. Unfortunately, this objective could not be achieved. Nevertheless, the broad-based study provided valuable insights into the disease and showed that a large clinical study in line with the highest standards is feasible also in countries with a poor infrastructure and a high disease burden.