JAMA Pediatrics recently reported that researchers had discovered that combining rifapentine and isoniazid to treat children with latent tuberculosis (TB) is equally as effective as longer treatment with just isoniazid.
Latent TB infections are inactive infections that may become active in the future. In addition to preventing future cases of TB, early treatment also reduces patients' chances of contracting Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Isoniazid treatment alone is efficient in treating latent TB infections, but the therapy takes longer, using health care resources that could be applied elsewhere.
The study’s authors used a randomized clinical trial to determine the efficacy and safety of combining isoniazid and rifapentine medications. The subjects included 1,058 children between the ages of 2 and 17 in 29 different sites throughout Brazil, Canada, China, Spain and the United States. All the subjects had latent TB.
Researchers compared results from patients who received doses of isoniazid and rifapentine administered once a week for 12 weeks to those of patients who received daily treatments of isoniazid daily for nine months.
Only 905 children completed the study. None of the 471 children from the combination-therapy group showed signs of TB upon completion of the study; three of the 434 isoniazid-only children still showed signs of TB.
None of the children had any liver damage due to either treatment.
Scientists hope that the results of this study will encourage health professionals to use the 12-week combination treatment for latent TB infections; however, rifapentine is not readily available outside the United States.