A pilot programme to treat multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) was implemented in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan in 2003. This region has particularly high levels of MDR-TB, with 13% and 40% among new and previously treated cases, respectively.
This study describes the treatment process and outcomes for the first cohort of patients enrolled in the programme, between October 2003 and January 2005. Confirmed MDR-TB cases were treated with an individualised, second-line drug regimen based on drug susceptibility test results, while suspected MDR-TB cases were treated with a standardised regimen pending susceptibility results.
Of 108 MDR-TB patients, 87 were started on treatment during the study period. Of these, 33 (38%) were infected with strains resistant to at least one second-line drug at baseline, but none had initial ofloxacin resistance. Treatment was successful for 54 (62%) patients, with 13 (15%) dying during treatment, 12 (14%) defaulting and 8 (8%) failing treatment. Poor clinical condition and baseline second-line resistance contributed to treatment failure or death. Treatment regimens were changed in 71 (82%) patients due to severe adverse events or drug resistance. Adverse events were most commonly attributed to cycloserine, ethionamide and
While acceptable treatment success was achieved, the complexity of treatment and the development of XDR-TB among treatment failures are important issues to be addressed when considering scaling up MDR-TB treatment.