Objective: To estimate the costs incurred by patients during the intensive and continuation phases of the current 6-month tuberculosis (TB) regimen in Bangladesh and Tanzania, and thus identify potential benefits to patients of a shorter, 4-month treatment regimen.
Design: The validated Stop TB patient cost questionnaire was adapted and used in interviews with 190 patients in the continuation phase of treatment with current regimens.
Results: In both countries, overall patient costs were lower during 2 months of the continuation phase (US$74 in Tanzania and US$56 in Bangladesh) than during the 2 months of the intensive phase of treatment (US$150 and US$111, respectively). However, continuation phase patient costs still represented 89% and 77% of the 2-month average national income in the respective countries. Direct travel costs in some settings were kept low by local delivery system features such as community treatment observation. Lost productivity and costs for supplementary foods remained significant.
Conclusions: Although it is not a straightforward exercise to determine the exact magnitude of likely savings, a shorter regimen would reduce out-of-pocket expenses incurred by patients in the most recent 2 months of the continuation phase and allow an earlier return to productive activities.