Inexpensive nail medication available without a prescription proven effective against severe flesh-eating illness.
A cost-effective and readily available medication, typically used for fungal nail infections, has been discovered to effectively combat a severe illness that causes tissue and bone to deteriorate in regions throughout Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
According to researchers, this breakthrough provides hope for numerous patients who have been neglected for many years and may face amputations if the condition is not treated.
The outcomes of the medical study conducted in Sudan for a novel treatment of mycetoma have revealed that the oral medication fosravuconazole has an effectiveness rate of 85% and does not cause any adverse reactions.
Dr. Borna Nyaoke, the leader of the mycetoma department at the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) – which organized the experiment with the Mycetoma Research Center (MRC) in Khartoum, Sudan and the Japanese drug company Eisai – described the finding as “significant”.
She expressed that we were all filled with excitement and that it will significantly impact the game.
Mycetoma is a chronic infection caused by certain bacteria and fungi and is on the World Health Organization’s list of 20 neglected tropical diseases. There are no accurate figures on the global number of cases, but Sudan and Mexico report the highest number.
The condition mainly impacts individuals in their youth living in impoverished, rural regions, with approximately 20-25% of mycetoma patients being children. A common way for people to contract the infection is through stepping on thorns without wearing shoes.
If not addressed, it can result in death. The negative perception surrounding the illness can have a detrimental impact on one’s mental well-being.
Currently, the condition mycetoma is managed using the medication itraconazole. This drug must be consumed four times daily with meals for a duration of one year and may result in various adverse reactions. Additionally, it is costly, with a price tag of approximately $2,000 (£1,600) per patient for a year of treatment. Availability of this medication is limited in countries where the disease is prevalent.
Fosravuconazole, which is already used to treat fungal nail infections, can be taken once a week for a year without food. “In our population, where having two square meals a day is difficult, this is an advantage,” said Nyaoke, adding that the new treatment is expected to be much cheaper.
Nevertheless, while the trials in Sudan showed promise, the ongoing conflict in the nation has hindered progress in combatting the illness. Sudan has been embroiled in a period of turmoil since April, when clashes ensued between the Sudanese military, commanded by Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces under rival Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti.
The MRC in Khartoum, the sole specialized center for mycetoma globally and a key reference laboratory for numerous medical institutions, has been forced to shut down.
Nyaoke stated that the regulatory authority in Sudan seems prepared to authorize the use of the drug on a national level. However, the timing of their decision is uncertain.
Ahmed Fahal, a surgery professor at Khartoum University and the founder of the mycetoma centre, stated that the conflict has greatly affected Sudan as a whole, including the centre and its patients. He added that it has hindered their work, with staff being forced to leave and dealing with emotional distress. Overall, the war has caused setbacks for the centre’s progress.
Fahal plans to establish two additional centers in regions of the country that have not been impacted by conflict. He stated, “We are committed to restarting and carrying on with our work.”