To determine the efficacy and safety of add-on dry powder for inhalation (DPI) of combined anti-TB agents prepared as a particulate system (study group) compared with placebo DPI (control group) in patients diagnosed with pulmonary TB.
This study was a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded parallel design. Subjects were pulmonary TB patients, new or re-treatment, aged 18 years or older. The eligible patients were randomly allocated (1:1) to either the study group or the control group using stratified blocked randomization. The add-on DPI of combined anti-TB therapy (each capsule contained isoniazid 5 mg, rifampicin 2 mg, pyrazinamide 16 mg, and levofloxacin 2 mg) was used throughout the course of the standard oral anti-TB treatment. The primary outcome was Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) sputum culture conversion measured after receiving treatment for eight weeks. Secondary outcomes were clinical signs and symptoms of pulmonary TB and adverse drug reactions (ADRs) related to anti-TB agents. The percentages of patients who achieved the primary outcome were compared (95% confidence interval). All analyses were performed using the modified intention-to-treat principle.
91 patients were randomly allocated: 44 to the study group and 47 to the control group. Important baseline data (%peak expiratory flow rate, chest X-ray findings, resistance to anti-TB agents, renal and liver function tests) were similar between the two groups. Although the percentages of patients who achieved the primary outcome were similar in both groups (34/44 [77.3%] in the study group and (34/47 [72.3%] in the control group; relative risk [RR] 1.07, 95% CI 0.84-1.36; p = 0.589), the study group patients seemed to achieve the primary outcome earlier than the control group (22/44 [50.0%] vs 15/47 [31.9%]; RR 1.57, 95% CI 0.94-2.61; p = 0.079) at the end of week 4. Cough was significantly lower in the study group than in the control group (23/44 [52.3%] vs 43/47 [91.5%]; RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.43-0.77; p < 0.001) at week 4 of treatment. Hemoptysis was found in approximately half of each group at baseline. The percentage of patients having hemoptysis was substantially reduced at week 2 of treatment (5 [11.4%] in the study group and 11 [23.0%] in the control group, p = 0.132). Regarding safety outcomes, no dyspnea or severe ADRs were reported. Adverse events (AEs) related to oral anti-TB agents, (e.g. liver function tests) were in normal ranges in most patients in both groups during the treatment. The incidences of common AEs reported (e.g. anorexia, dizziness, numbness, arthralgia, rash, and itching) were similar between the two groups, while the incidences of nausea and vomiting were significantly lower in the study group than the control group (38.6% vs 74.5%, p = 0.001, and 43.2% vs 66.0%, p = 0.029, respectively).
Add-on combined anti-TB DPI therapy to the standard oral anti-TB treatment did not increase MTB sputum culture conversion at two months of treatment. However, the percentage of patients having cough in the study group was significantly lower than in the control group at two months after treatment. A reduction in cough might represent adequate response to treatment, and result in a decreased risk of spread of infection. Combined anti-TB DPI therapy was safe. Further study investigated in a larger sample using higher strengths of DPI therapy is required.

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