Considerations in preparing for clinical studies of inhaled rifampicin to enhance tuberculosis treatment

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Drug delivery via the inhaled route has advantages for treating local and systemic diseases. Pulmonary drug delivery may have potential in treating tuberculosis (TB), which is mainly localised in the lung (pulmonary tuberculosis ˜75%) while also affecting other organs (extra-pulmonary tuberculosis). Currently, rifampicin, a first-line anti-tubercular drug, is given orally and the maximum daily oral dose is the lesser of 10mg/kg or 600mg. Since only a small fraction of this dose is available in the lung, concentrations may frequently fail to reach bactericidal levels, and therefore, contribute to the development of multi-drug resistant pulmonary TB. Pulmonary delivery of rifampicin, either alone or in addition to the standard oral dose, has the potential to achieve a high concentration of rifampicin in the lung at a relatively low administered dose that is sufficient to kill bacteria and reduce the development of drug resistance. As yet, no clinical study in humans has reported the pharmacokinetics or the efficacy of pulmonary delivery of rifampicin for TB. This review discusses the opportunities and challenges of rifampicin delivery via the inhaled route and important considerations for future clinical studies on high dose inhaled rifampicin are illustrated.

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