Published: 17 February 2022

Authors: Aliasgar Esmail, Suzette Oelofse, Carl Lombard, Rubeshan Perumal, Linda Mbuthini, Akhter Goolam Mahomed, Ebrahim Variava, John Black, Patrick Oluboyo, Nelile Gwentshu, Eric Ngam, Tertius Ackerman, Linde Marais, Lynelle Mottay, Stuart Meier, Anil Pooran, Michele Tomasicchio, Julian Te Riele, Brigitta Derendinger, Norbert Ndjeka, Gary Maartens, Robin Warren, Neil Martinson, and Keertan Dheda

Source: This abstract has been sourced from NZ Respiratory Research Review Issue 199


    Rationale: Improving treatment outcomes while reducing drug toxicity and shortening the treatment duration to ∼6 months remains an aspirational goal for the treatment of multidrug-resistant/rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis (MDR/RR-TB).

    Objectives: To conduct a multicenter randomized controlled trial in adults with MDR/RR-TB (i.e., without resistance to fluoroquinolones or aminoglycosides).

    Methods: Participants were randomly assigned (1:1 ratio) to a ∼6-month all-oral regimen that included levofloxacin, bedaquiline, and linezolid, or the standard-of-care (SOC) ⩾9-month World Health Organization (WHO)-approved injectable-based regimen. The primary endpoint was a favorable WHO-defined treatment outcome (which mandates that prespecified drug substitution is counted as an unfavorable outcome) 24 months after treatment initiation. The trial was stopped prematurely when bedaquiline-based therapy became the standard of care in South Africa.

    Measurements and Main Results: In total, 93 of 111 randomized participants (44 in the comparator arm and 49 in the interventional arm) were included in the modified intention-to-treat analysis; 51 (55%) were HIV coinfected (median CD4 count, 158 cells/ml). Participants in the intervention arm were 2.2 times more likely to experience a favorable 24-month outcome than participants in the SOC arm (51% [25 of 49] vs. 22.7% [10 of 44]; risk ratio, 2.2 [1.2–4.1]; P = 0.006). Toxicity-related drug substitution occurred more frequently in the SOC arm (65.9% [29 of 44] vs. 34.7% [17 of 49]; P = 0.001)], 82.8% (24 of 29) owing to kanamycin (mainly hearing loss; replaced by bedaquiline) in the SOC arm, and 64.7% (11 of 17) owing to linezolid (mainly anemia) in the interventional arm. Adverse event–related treatment discontinuation in the safety population was more common in the SOC arm (56.4% [31 of 55] vs. 32.1% [17 of 56]; P = 0.007). However, grade 3 adverse events were more common in the interventional arm (55.4% [31 of 56] vs. 32.7 [18 of 55]; P = 0.022). Culture conversion was significantly better in the intervention arm (hazard ratio, 2.6 [1.4–4.9]; P = 0.003) after censoring those with bedaquiline replacement in the SOC arm (and this pattern remained consistent after censoring for drug replacement in both arms; P = 0.01).

    Conclusions: Compared with traditional injectable-containing regimens, an all-oral 6-month levofloxacin, bedaquiline, and linezolid–containing MDR/RR-TB regimen was associated with a significantly improved 24-month WHO-defined treatment outcome (predominantly owing to toxicity-related drug substitution). However, drug toxicity occurred frequently in both arms. These findings inform strategies to develop future regimens for MDR/RR-TB.

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