Time to find new drugs to treat TB

The world marked Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March 24 .

In recent years, TB has become endemic in First World countries such as Singapore (Latent TB is common here so no routine screening; March 29) and poses a problem in the United States and Australia.

There are two reasons for the growing TB numbers. First, people are travelling frequently for business and holidays, leading to cross-border infections.

Second, for over a decade, there have been no new drugs to treat TB, with the disease growing more resistant to older drugs.

Medical researchers are too busy finding a cure for cancer, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. There is no money in TB drugs.

Everyone who has a stake in wanting to see an end to TB should persuade researchers to find new drugs that can treat the disease.

The market is confined to Third World countries, which often cannot afford to buy new drugs.

Everyone who has a stake in wanting to see an end to TB should persuade researchers to find new drugs that can treat the disease.

We also have to persuade pharmaceutical firms to invest in the manufacture of new TB drugs. There is a market for them.

Ronald Lee Yew Kee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'Time to find new drugs to treat TB'. Print Edition | Subscribe