Even as an 18-year-old from Patna has succeeded, with the help the judicial system, to get access to the new anti-TB drug, Bedaquiline, which is often referred to as ‘the miracle drug’, doctors have said it is showing no effect on a 24-year-old woman from Mumbai.
“She is probably the first ‘Bedaquiline failure’ case to be reported in the city, but there more cases may emerge after the government’s Bedaquiline trail outcomes are analysed,” said Dr Vikas Oswal, who is treating the woman at a Govandi nursing home.
Bedaquiline has generated excitement in the medical fraternity because it is the first anti-TB drug in 40 years. The sale of the drug is restricted in India, with the government issuing the drug only at six centres — two centres in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Guwahati, on a trial basis since March 2016.
Govandi resident Ayesha Shaikh (name changed) was diagnosed with a drug-sensitive form of TB in 2013 at Sir JJ Hospital, Byculla. Doctors started her treatment, but when the two most powerful anti-TB medicines — isoniazid and rifampicin — failed to improve her condition, doctors realised she had developed resistance to the drug.
They started her on second-line drugs, which are given only when first line drugs don’t respond, but her condition kept worsening. They finally asked her to meet Dr Zarir Udwadia at PD Hinduja Hospital, Mahim, who sees many severe cases of TB.
Shaikh’s medical reports show doctors at Hinduja performed a culture test along with a Drug Susceptibility Test (DST), which proved she was harbouring a ‘Total Drug Resistant (TDR TB) strain, also referred to as ‘ Extensively Extreme Drug Resistant’, which are almost impossible to treat, said doctors.
At Hinduja, Ayesha was started on a six-month course of Bedaquiline, along with four other second-line drugs, assuming it to be the best regimen to fight her infection. But even the ‘miracle drug’ did not help her. She is now resistant to 12 out of the 13 anti-TB drugs available.
“Doctors at Hinduja told me nothing can be done for her. They asked me to take her to the village and said the cleaner air there may help her. But we don’t have any family in the village,” said Shahida Shaikh, her aunt, who lives with Ayesha in a 200-square foot room.
Her recent chest X-ray reports show that her right lung and 50% of her left lung are completely damaged. She weighs 25kg, despite her high protein diet.