Purpose of review: This review discusses the recent evidence on epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of drug-resistant and multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis (TB), an area where solutions for better diagnosis and treatment continually develop.
Recent findings: The prevalence of drug resistance has been constantly rising during the recent years. It has peaked in eastern European countries such as Belarus, where a record of 35.5% MDR-TB amongst new cases have been reported from Minsk. New diagnostic tools are becoming available. Xpert MTB/RIF is by far the most promising of these new techniques. Clinical management of drug-resistant TB is still cumbersome. However, after over 40 years of neglect, new drugs are becoming readily available: delamanid, bedaquiline, and PA-824 combined into innovative regimens raise hopes for substantially higher success rates.
Summary: The innovative diagnostic tools recently validated are changing the traditional paradigms of TB diagnosis, for too long based on sputum smear, culture, and drug susceptibility testing. New anti-TB compounds, which can be combined with several 'old' drugs with new indications, are gradually modifying the chances of cure for MDR-TB cases. Although initial evidence appears promising, the market use of new drugs must be accompanied by a serious public health approach aimed at preventing the development of further drug resistance.