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December 04, 2015.
International nonprofit organization TB Alliance and its partners have made available the first child-friendly tuberculosis (TB) medicines in the correct doses, meeting the guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2010. Children need different doses of TB medicines than adults. To approximate the correct dose for a child, parents and carers have thus far had to crush or chop available drugs, and piece together the treatment regimen. Splitting TB pills, which gives the medication a bitter taste and usually results in imprecise dosing. The drugs made available by TB Alliance are dispersible and palatable, simple to administer and affordable. The new TB medicines are fixed dose combinations (FDCs) of the three most commonly used drugs to treat drug-sensitive TB (rifampicin, isoniazid, and pyrazinamide). These are not new drugs, but rather improved formulations that are dissolvable and flavored so that they are simple for providers and parents to administer and easy for children to take. The FDCs are rifampicin + isoniazid + pyrazinamide, which is used for the initial two months of treatment, followed by four months of rifampicin + isoniazid. The formulations are in the process of being prequalified by WHO but are now available under the WHO’s Expert Review Panel mechanism. TB Alliance is working with WHO, UNICEF, Management Sciences for Health and other organizations to encourage uptake in countries with high TB burdens and to reach children affected by TB at all levels or sectors of healthcare. Initial roll-out of the new medicines is expected in early 2016. www.tballiance.org/