TB Drug Fighting Resistant Strains Wins Europe Approval

Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. won approval to sell its delamanid tuberculosis drug in Europe, one of the first new treatments in 50 years for the deadly infectious disease.

The drug gained marketing clearance from the European Commission for use in a combination therapy for pulmonary multidrug-resistant TB in adult patients , Tokyo-based Otsuka said in a statement. The drug, which will be sold under brand name Deltyba, will begin selling in Germany in four to six weeks, Katsunori Hashiba, a spokesman at Otsuka, said today.

TB caused 1.3 million deaths worldwide in 2012, making it the greatest infectious disease killer after HIV, according to the World Health Organization. Otsuka’s drug will help control the growing threat of drug-resistant infections. An estimated 450,000 people developed multidrug resistant TB in the world in 2012, the WHO said.

Otsuka began looking for new ways to attack the bacterium in 1982 when TB was under control in developed nations and the world wasn’t working on a new medicine. The company decided to serve patients in poor countries as the disease plagued Asian nations such as China, Indonesia and Thailand, where the company built factories in the 1970s and 1980s.

“I knew that someone had to do this research because TB was still a huge public health issue in Asia,” Akihiko Otsuka, chairman of Otsuka and a member of the founding family of the company, said in the statement.

In December 2012, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s Sirturo won approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. to treat multidrug-resistant TB.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kanoko Matsuyama in Tokyo at kmatsuyama2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anjali Cordeiro at acordeiro2@bloomberg.net

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