Reader’s Corner: Cheap and Effective TB Drug Being Ignored? Action Alert!

January 15, 2013
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OTC-pharmacyA reader brought an interesting issue to our attention: mainstream medicine is rejecting a lifesaving tuberculosis treatment—likely because it’s not profitable! Take Action!

Steve wrote, “I am not a fan of Big Pharma, but you may be interested to know about a painkiller that kills TB.” And indeed we were! We looked into the issue more and found another classic case of FDA red tape blocking access to a potentially lifesaving treatment.

Researchers have discovered that an inexpensive, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug called oxyphenbutazone, developed in the 1950s to treat arthritis but withdrawn in the 1980s, can kill the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB)—even the drug-resistant varieties. In terms of over-the-counter pain relief, there are safer alternatives to oxyphenbutazone, as it does have some known toxicities. However, when it comes to treating TB, oxyphenbutazone appears to be the safest treatment by a long shot.

The study was done by the Weill Cornell Medical College at Cornell University and was funded in part by the TB Drug Accelerator Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Researchers found it would cost about two cents a day to treat TB in developing countries, where the disease has reached pandemic proportions.

One in ten cases of TB is drug-resistant, it’s second only to HIV as the leading infectious killer of adults worldwide (as we reported last September), and it is the third largest cause of death among women aged 15 to 44. Influenza is in the news again (see our article in this issue), but TB is far more deadly. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, India, the US, and South Africa are taking steps to address the threat of drug-resistant TB. The CDC has a faster test to diagnose drug-resistant strains, and the US is acting to alleviate shortages of TB treatments.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that oxyphenbutazone will ever be used to treat TB patients. Companies won’t pay for clinical trials, as they aren’t likely to make a profit on a drug that’s cheap. The drug has run out of its patent protection, so now nobody wants to study it, and while it is still used extensively in veterinary medicine, for it to be approved for TB, it would need to go through the extraordinarily expensive New Drug Application process.

Another obstacle is that the FDA requires testing on animals. When it comes to testing drugs, mice are by far the best (and cheapest) subjects: they share 99% of their genes with humans. But mice metabolize the drug too quickly for it to be studied that way, so in this case, animal testing would be far more expensive than with other drugs. Besides, FDA-mandated clinical trials aren’t always the best way to study new drugs. As we noted last year, they are also frequently misused, as Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez found during the clinical trials for his groundbreaking integrative cancer treatment.

(On a humorous note, at least oxyphenbutazone can be used in Scrabble. The word holds the title for the highest possible score for a single play under American tournament Scrabble rules, scoring 1,780 points across three triple-word-score squares, joining seven tiles to eight already played tiles.)

While a safe and effective and inexpensive TB drug goes begging, a potentially dangerous TB drug was just approved by the FDA. Johnson & Johnson’s new drug designed to treat multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis, benaquline, was given accelerated approval despite the FDA’s findings that the drug comes with a fivefold greater risk of death compared to a placebo. FDA usually requires three-stage testing process, but benaquline was approved after only the first two phases, with promises that they’d continue more tests later.

Why approve a drug that has a dramatically increased risk of death when a drug that has been around for half a decade can do the same thing more safely? Because the old drug costs pennies a day, while the new one is extremely expensive. Big Pharma is all about Big Money, and not about treating the millions of patients, most of them very poor, who are transmitting and then dying from the disease all over the world.

If we finally do get the worldwide pandemic that health experts have worried about for decades, and hundreds of millions of people die, it may very well be TB, not the flu. The people who run the drug system (whether in the pharmaceutical industry or the FDA) and are keeping oxyphenbutazone off the market may then lose loved ones and regret what they did—but it will be too late.

Action Alert! Contact the FDA, with a copy to Congress, and insist that a way be found around present bureaucratic barriers that prevent oxyphenbutazone from being reviewed for possible approval for drug-resistant tuberculosis. The threat of a worldwide pandemic in drug-resistant TB is very real. This is an urgent matter and there is no time to lose. Just because oxyphenbutazone is off-patent and therefore of little interest to drug companies and hard to study is no excuse. Send your message today!

Take Action!

14 Responses to “Reader’s Corner: Cheap and Effective TB Drug Being Ignored? Action Alert!”

  1. “One in ten cases of TB is drug-resistant, it’s second only to HIV as the leading infectious killer of adults worldwide”

    But HIV is not infectious or why would the CDC have removed it from conditions that disallow people to visit the USA?

    Even the HIV tests come with the advice that they are not intended to indicate infection, although the test providers don’t let the people see the insert that says so. AIDS may kill people, but HIV does not. In fact, in Africa, TB and other diseases are the killers, not HIV.

    See OMSJ.org and Henry Bauer’s blogs and book, “The Origins, Persistence and Failures of the HIV/AIDS Theory”.

       0 likes

  2. Arminius says:

    Decompession chamber – 100% O2 @ 3 atmospheres (45PSI) for 72 hours.

       0 likes

  3. icwhite02 says:

    I thought the oath was, “FIRST DO NO HARM!?” Blocking this EFFECTIVE drug because it doesn’t generate enough PROFITS???????? Sounds to me like this is just another case of letting the fox watch the henhouse!

       1 likes

  4. Dear ANH;
    Anacardic compounds in cashew pears and raw cashew nuts are very lethal to gram positive bacteria. Therefore it is possible that they would prove useful against tuberculosis since tuberculosis is said to be related to gram positive bacteria. You may see a discussion of their successful use against tooth abscess bacteria in http://charles_w.tripod.com/tooth.html . Perhaps you could use your influence to get what would be an easy, safe experiment performed using cashew nuts, cashew pears, or mango fruit. Anacardic acids could even possibly be used to see if they add to the potency of other medicines.
    Sincerely, Charles Weber

       3 likes

  5. annie steele says:

    Keep up the good work ! We need someone getting intell about these issues.
    Please take good care of yourselves as you are a minority. Big Pharma was
    a and is not liking competion.

       0 likes

  6. Steve Comee says:

    If I had TB, I would put 10ml of Mesosilver in a nebulizer and inhale it. It kills ALL viruses, bacteria, molds, and fungi (100.0%) within 6 minutes of making contact. Of the 38 brands, only 2 are medically effective (Mesosilver is the most effective (5x more than the second one)). Some of the impostures will turn your skin permanently gray. See http://www.silver-colloids.com/Reports for test results.

       0 likes

  7. S says:

    Hi, Celiac help may get rid of HIV and TB. No gluten/dairy/soy/sugar and taking vitamins/good oils and LDN may help the immune system. Painkillers may lower the immune system. LDN doesn’t hurt…only help…but I need to drink more water. LDN is cheap…maybe $1 a day.

       0 likes

  8. Robert Cruder says:

    In fairness to physicians, few saw the original research although more may have seen Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012; 109(40):16004-11 (ISSN: 1091-6490). That was one study that awaits replication. After replication, manufacturers could not market the drug for TB until the FDA or other relevant authority licenses it for that use.

    Even licensing an existing drug is expensive and no rational producer would pay for the license when every competitor could freeload. Global enforcement of use patents could allow a producer to recoup such an investment. It might well require a consortium rather than one producer since a similar investment must be made for Canada, for the EU and so forth.

    Those separate first-world licenses might not be the best route. Given its history of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) oxyphenbutazone will never be a first-line drug in the first world. It might become the last alternative when more modern drugs fail and could become the starting point for a new drug with the same benefits and fewer ADRs.

    The major opportunity is in the third world. India and China already produce aids drugs in violation of U.S. patents and with no interference from the FDA. They can produce raw oxyphenbutazone powder by the ton as if it were an industrial chemical without permission from the FDA. Third-world countries can press it into tabs or capsules also without FDA involvement.

    So why pressure the FDA? I would not want moral responsibility for the additional ADRs suffered by U.S. consumers and do not need to do so in order to achieve the same third-world result.

    Absent such FDA pressure, researchers will produce a modified drug that provides the benefits without the ADRs. It will be patented and cost more initially but will be prescribed only in first-world countries that can afford it. It will eventually go off patent as oxyphenbutazone did and benefit the third world with no monetary investment from them.

       1 likes

  9. Polly says:

    Higher cholesterol levels will kill TB. See the video at the Great Plains Laboratory website about the problems with cholesterol getting too low. Cholesterol levels below 160 mg/dl are not good for you. You are inviting trouble with TB, strep and staph.

       0 likes

  10. Jon Olsen says:

    Those of us who express joy, love and exuberance for another world being possible in which the dominant values and methods are turned upside down are REVEL-utionaries. Think of those who joyously took sledge hammers to the Berlin Wall. Soon it will be our turn.

       0 likes

    • John says:

      Your hegative comment is not what we need. You obviously have a sledge hammer, hang onto it, because, the way I think; the trend is to take it away, such as remove all guns. Then the wall may go up and you have nothing

         0 likes

  11. Dr K says:

    If you think these people mind killing their own families to make money you sure have a much higher opinion of them than I have. Think of politicians and companies who do fluoride in water, chem trails, GMO’s, hide real cures. Do you this does not kill them and their families? All they crave is power. They have no souls or morals.

       1 likes

  12. Brad Roon says:

    I would go with ozone therapy. Kills any bacteria, fungus, or virus if delivered at proper dosage in correct manner.

    An ozone machine would probably do it, unfortunately my old Alpine died and the transformer is no longer made.

    (sigh)

       0 likes

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