Three years after the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) said it would conduct a drug trial to test a novel drug-regimen for tuberculosis (TB), lack of funds is throttling the project. In January 2014, the Drug Controller General of India — the referee for drug trials in the country — approved a phase 2b trial (a limited test of a prospective drug in humans to prove its potency) to test a combination of three TB drugs to treat multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).
The drug, developed in collaboration with the international Global Alliance on Tuberculosis, was to enter phase 3, or large-scale trials last year in South Africa. However, there are reviews that are reconsidering these trials on the grounds that it hasn’t worked as well as it was supposed to in HIV patients. Apart from the health benefits, the drug trial would have been the first such attempt by the CSIR-led Open Source Drug Development (OSDD) consortium — an initiative to discover and test new drugs for infectious diseases that are widespread in poor countries by using expertise outside the confines of traditional pharmaceutical companies — to test a new drug in India.