Non-compliance::Tuberculosis management


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Non-compliance Patients who take their TB treatment in an irregular and unreliable way are at greatly increased risk of treatment failure, relapse and the development of drug-resistant TB strains.

There are variety of reasons why patients fail to take their medication. The symptoms of TB commonly resolve within a few weeks of starting TB treatment and many patients then lose motivation to continue taking their medication. Regular follow-up is important to check on compliance and to identify any problems patients are having with their medication. Patients need to be told of the importance of taking their tablets regularly, and the importance of completing treatment, because of the risk of relapse or drug-resistance developing otherwise.

One of the main complaints is the bulkiness of the tablets. The main offender is PZA (the tablets being the size of horse tablets). PZA syrup may be offered as a substitute, or if the size of the tablets is truly an issue and liquid preparations are not available, then PZA can be omitted altogether. If PZA is omitted, the patient should be warned that this results in a significant increase in the duration of treatment (details of regimens omitting PZA are given below).

The other complaint is that the medicines must be taken on an empty stomach to facilitate absorption. This can be difficult for patients to follow (for example, shift workers who take their meals at irregular times) and may mean the patient waking up an hour earlier than usual everyday just to take medication. The rules are actually less stringent than many physicians and pharmacists realise: the issue is that the absorption of RMP is reduced if taken with fat, but is unaffected by carbohydrate, protein,<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> or antacids.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> So the patient can in fact have his or her medication with food as long as the meal does not contain fat or oils (e.g., a cup of black coffee or toast with jam and no butter).<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> Taking the medicines with food also helps ease the nausea that many patients feel when taking the medicines on an empty stomach. The effect of food on the absorption of INH is not clear: two studies have shown reduced absorption with food<ref name="Peloquin1999">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> but one study showed no difference.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> There is a small effect of food on the absorption of PZA and of EMB that is probably not clinically important.<ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref>

It is possible to test urine for isoniazid and rifampicin levels in order to check for compliance. The interpretation of urine analysis is based on the fact that isoniazid has a longer half-life than rifampicin:

  • urine positive for isoniazid and rifampicin patient probably fully compliant
  • urine positive for isoniazid only patient has taken his medication in the last few days preceding the clinic appointment, but had not yet taken a dose that day.
  • urine positive for rifampicin only patient has omitted to take his medication the preceding few days, but did take it just before coming to clinic.
  • urine negative for both isoniazid and rifampicin patient has not taken either medicine for a number of days

In countries where doctors are unable to compel patients to take their treatment (e.g., the UK), some say that urine testing only results in unhelpful confrontations with patients and does not help increase compliance. In countries where legal measures can be taken to force patients to take their medication (e.g., the US), then urine testing can be a useful adjunct in assuring compliance.

RMP colours the urine and all bodily secretions (tears, sweat, etc.) an orange-pink colour and this can be a useful proxy if urine testing is not available (although this colour fades approximately six to eight hours after each dose).

In study on cases of extra-pulmonary TB (EPTB), researchers at the University of the Philippines Manila found that similarity of symptoms of EPTB to other diseases results to delayed identification of the disease and late provision of medication. This, ultimately contribute to increasing rates of mortality and incidence rates of EPTB.<ref></ref>

Tuberculosis management sections
Intro  Drugs  The standard regimen  Non-compliance  Adverse effects  Deviations from the standard regimen  Tuberculosis and other conditions  Drug-resistant tuberculosis  Treatment failure  Treatment relapse  Society and culture  Trial of therapy  Surgical treatment  Nutrition  Latent tuberculosis  Current research  See also  National and international guidelines   Bibliography   

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