Johnson & Johnson seeks approval for new drug to combat tuberculosis


AP

TRENTON, New Jersey–Johnson & Johnson (J&J) said Monday that it is seeking U.S. approval for the first new type of medicine to fight deadly tuberculosis in more than four decades.

The experimental drug, called bedaquiline, also would be the first medicine specifically for treating multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. That’s an increasingly common form in which at least two of the four primary TB drugs don’t work.

Tuberculosis, caused by bacterial infection of the lungs and other body areas, is the world’s No. 2 killer of adults among infectious diseases.

J&J’s Janssen Research & Development unit created the drug, which was tested in several hundred patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in two midstage studies lasting for six months. Some patients were studied for about 1 1/2 years.

The company this fall is to begin late-stage testing that will compare bedaquiline to dummy pills over nine months in about 600 patients; each will also take six other drugs that are the standard treatments for tuberculosis. That study is aimed at seeing whether treatment for resistant tuberculosis can be reduced to nine months from the current 18 to 24 months recommended by the World Health Organization.