Eliminating the category II retreatment regimen from national tuberculosis programme guidelines: the Georgian experience
Jennifer Furin, Medea Gegia, Carole Mitnick, Michael Rich, Sonya Shin, Mercedes Becerra, Peter Drobac, Paul Farmer, Rocio Hurtado, J Keith Joseph, Salmaan Keshavjee & Iagor Kalandadze
The category II retreatment regimen for management of tuberculosis in previously treated patients was first introduced in the early 1990s. It consists of 8 months of total therapy with the addition of streptomycin to standard first-line medications. A review of 6500 patients on category II therapy in Georgia showed poor outcomes and high rates of streptomycin resistance.
The National Tuberculosis Program used an evidence-based analysis of national data to convince policy-makers that category II therapy should be eliminated from national guidelines in Georgia.
The World Health Organization tuberculosis case-notification rate in Georgia is 102 per 100 000 population. All patients receive culture and drug susceptibility testing as a standard part of tuberculosis diagnosis. In 2009, routine surveillance found multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in 10.6% of newly diagnosed patients and 32.5% of previously treated cases.
Category II retreatment regimen is no longer used in Georgia. Treatment is guided by results of drug susceptibility testing – using rapid, molecular tests where possible – for all previously treated tuberculosis patients.
There was little resistance to policy change because the review was initiated and led by the National Tuberculosis Program. This experience can serve as a successful model for other countries to make informed decisions about the use of category II therapy.