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A returning patient provides his fingerprint for a biometrics tracking system at an operation ASHA tuberculosis treatment center in 2011, in New Delhi, India. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Pretomanid Tablets, when used alongside 2 other antibiotics, to treat an extremely drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis.

Why it matters: "Tuberculosis has now surpassed AIDS as the world’s leading infectious cause of death," the New York Times reports. The new drug cured 89% of 107 patients with extensively drug-resistant TB after 6 months, when used in combination with antibiotics bedaquiline and linezolid, the FDA said.

What's new: Before the FDA approved this combination therapy, the most common treatment for this type of tuberculosis required patients to take around 30 pills a day plus sometimes daily injections for at least 18 months. This new treatment lowers that dose to 5 pills/day over 6 months for most patients.

  • A spokesperson for the nonprofit TB Alliance, which submitted Pretomanid Tablets to the FDA based on 19 clinical trials, said "it'd be a stretch" to describe previous drug regimens for highly resistant forms of tuberculosis as effective treatment.
  • "We've seen some incremental improvement, but until now, there hasn't been anything I would call a reliable cure," the spokesperson said.

The big picture: XDR-TB, or extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, is found in over 127 countries. Tuberculosis is especially prevalent in India, South Africa and China. To a lesser extent, Brazil and Russia also have significant TB problems.

  • Tuberculosis is responsible for 1 in 3 HIV deaths, per 2018 data from the World Health Organization.
  • "It happens to be a disease that kills the poorest of the poor," a TB Alliance spokesperson said.

The bottom line: Although the new drug is now approved only in the U.S., FDA approval is a signal to the rest of the world that this treatment has validity.

Go deeper: Experts say eliminating TB is possible this generation, but funding is paramount

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct 'XDR-TBD' to 'XDR-TB.'

Go deeper

Jan. 6 committee recommends contempt charges against Bannon

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night recommending that former Trump aide Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

Why it matters: The resolution sets up a House vote to refer Bannon for potential criminal prosecution, signaling that the committee will not tolerate attempts by former President Trump and his associates to stymie the investigation.

Civil rights groups sue Oklahoma over law banning critical race theory

The Oklahoma state capitol in Oklahoma City. Photo: Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A group of civil rights organizations is suing Oklahoma over a law that restricts discussion of race and gender in public schools.

Why it matters: The law is one of several Republican-led attempts to ban critical race theory (CRT), a concept that links racial discrimination to the nation's foundations and legal system.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congressman criminally charged with lying to feds

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) has been indicted on charges he falsified records and lied to federal investigators probing an illegal foreign donation scheme, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Driving the news: DOJ says a Fortenberry associate, who later cooperated with investigators, informed him he'd likely received illegal donations from an intermediary for a foreign national, but that Fortenberry denied any knowledge of such a scheme when contacted by the FBI.

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