New TB drug to be introduced


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is working with the Health Department to host a series of trainings to help PNG’s doctors safely introduce bedaquiline, the first new drug for tuberculosis in over 45 years.
This was made possible by USAID through funding provided to FHI360 and the World Health Organisation.
Dr Anh Innes, a senior multidrug-resistant tuberculosis technical adviser at the USAID Bureau for Global Health in Washington DC returned to PNG to oversee USAID’s donation of bedaquiline and provide technical assistance for the health department, specifically the pharmaceutical services standards branch.
“Our main strategy for the safe introduction of bedaquiline is called pharmacovigilance, which is the science of early detection and monitoring of adverse effects,” Innes said
“When adverse events happen when you take a medicine, you want to be able to find them quickly and manage them effectively.”
USAID and the Health Department are also using that as a catalyst to build the foundation for pharmacovigilance for all drugs in PNG.
In Dr Innes’ three previous visits, she carried out training on pharmacovigilance for bedaquiline for physicians in 12 provinces in the country.
“So this time, we’re focusing on working with the pharmaceutical services standards branch to roll out the ‘backbone’ for pharmacovigilance through the provincial medicines and therapeutics committee,” Innes said.
The first stage of the roll-out is happening at Gerehu Clinic this week.”
The pharmaceutical services standards branch will host a series of medicines and therapeutics committee trainings that will take place in provinces and hospitals throughout the country.
FHI360 country director Daniel Tesfaye added that USAID has donated 85 courses of bedaquiline, distributed mainly to Daru Hospital and the Port Moresby General Hospital as they care for high numbers of drug-resistant TB patients.

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