TB Drug Resistance

TB drug resistance can only be surely proven by drug susceptibility testing performed in a competent laboratory.

The incidence of drug resistant organisms is 9%, and the causes of drug resistance in tuberculosis are:

  • Non-compliance with prescribed medication is the foremost cause of drug resistance and sporadic taking of medications for TB can result in organisms becoming resistant to one or multiple drugs in a short period of time (a few months).
  • Inappropriate treatment regimens
  • Inadequate dosages
  • Poor drug absorption
  • AIDS or HIV infection

Once drug resistant TB is found to be present, the next steps taken are crucial in the eradication of these organisms. Treatment of patients with drug-resistant TB should be performed by or in consultation with experts in the management of these difficult situations. Second line anti-tuberculosis drugs are often needed and often represent the patient’s last best chance for a cure. Inappropriate management can have life- threatening consequences.

More severe forms of drug-resistant TB:

  • Multi drug-resistant TB (MDR TB) is TB that is resistant to at least two of the best anti-tuberculosis drugs, INH and RIF. These drugs are considered first-line and are used to treat all persons with active TB disease. About 96 % of multi-drug resistant cases occur in HIV-infected patients.

Read more about TB and HIV

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