Setting: Current treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) might be shortened by the incorporation of fluoroquinolones (FQs).
Objectives: A Phase II study aimed to assess the sterilising activities of three novel regimens containing FQs before a Phase III trial of a 4-month regimen containing gatifloxacin (GFX).
Design: A total of 217 newly diagnosed smear-positive patients were randomly allocated to one of four regimens: isoniazid (INH), pyrazinamide and rifampicin (RMP) with either ethambutol, GFX, moxifloxacin (MFX) or ofloxacin (OFX) for 2 months. At the end of the study, RMP and INH were given for 4 months. The rates of elimination of Mycobacterium tuberculosis were compared in the regimens using non-linear mixed effects modelling of the serial sputum colony counts (SSCC) during the first 8 weeks.
Results: After adjustment for covariates, MFX substitution appeared superior during the early phase of a bi-exponential fall in colony counts, but significant and similar acceleration of bacillary elimination during the late phase occurred with both GFX and MFX (P = 0.002). Substitution of OFX had no effect. These findings were supported by estimates of time to conversion, using Cox regression, but there were no significant differences in proportions culture-negative at 8 weeks.
Conclusions: GFX and MFX improve the sterilising activity of regimens and might shorten treatment; their progression into Phase III trials therefore seems warranted.