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What Is Bedaquiline Used For?

If you have tuberculosis and have no other treatment options, your healthcare provider may prescribe bedaquiline in combination with other medications. This drug works by blocking an enzyme the bacteria need to survive and replicate. Bedaquiline is used in adults who have active tuberculosis that affects the lungs and is resistant to other forms of treatment.


An Overview of Uses for Bedaquiline

Bedaquiline (Sirturo™) is a prescription antibiotic approved to treat resistant tuberculosis of the lungs in adults in combination with other tuberculosis medications. This drug is reserved for use when other tuberculosis treatments are not an option, as studies suggest it may increase the risk of death for unknown reasons.

Understanding Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially serious infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis (or simply M. tuberculosis). The infection can affect almost any part of the body, but most commonly affects the lungs. While the number of TB cases is declining in the United States, the disease remains one of the deadliest infections worldwide.
TB is spread from person to person through the air. More specifically, it is spread when someone with the disease releases tiny droplets containing the bacteria into the air by sneezing, coughing, or speaking. If a nearby person breathes in the bacteria, they become infected (see Tuberculosis Transmission).
Not everyone who becomes infected with TB will have symptoms. In most people, the body is able to fight the bacteria and stop them from growing. This is known as latent TB. People with latent TB do not have symptoms. They also cannot spread the infection to others.
If the bacteria begin to multiply, however, a person develops active TB, or TB disease. People with active TB can spread the bacteria. They also have symptoms, such as coughing, weight loss, fever, and chills (see Symptoms of Tuberculosis).
Both the latent and active forms of TB are treated with antibiotics. Treatment of active TB usually involves taking several different antibiotics for at least six to nine months. Latent TB is easier to treat, but still requires months of treatment. Treating latent TB can help reduce the chance that the infection will become active.
The most common medications used to treat TB include isoniazid, rifampin (Rifadin®), ethambutol (Myambutol®), and pyrazinamide. These drugs are quite effective at treating TB and, in most cases, can cure the disease. However, the bacteria that cause TB can become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the disease, particularly when the antibiotics are used inappropriately or a course of treatment is only partially completed.
Multidrug-resistant TB is tuberculosis that has developed a resistance to at least isoniazid and rifampin. It is spread in the same way that other forms are spread -- through the air. Because it will not respond to the main antibiotics used to treat TB, multidrug-resistant TB is much more difficult to treat and cure, and has become a serious public health problem throughout the world.
Bedaquiline is the first medication approved to treat multidrug-resistant TB. It is used in combination with at least three other medications the bacteria have been shown to respond to in lab tests. If the bacteria cannot be tested, at least four other medications that the bacteria will likely respond to must be used.
This drug is only approved to treat active multidrug-resistant TB that affects the lungs. It is unknown whether bedaquiline is safe and effective for the treatment of latent TB or TB that involves parts of the body other than the lungs.
Bedaquiline is associated with potentially serious side effects, including serious heart rhythm problems. In addition, in one clinical study, more deaths were seen in people given bedaquiline than in people not given the drug. Therefore, the medication is reserved for use in people who do not have other treatment options.

Bedaquiline Drug Information

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