Counting pyrazinamide in regimens for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2015 May;12(5):674-9. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201411-538OC.


Rationale: For treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend four likely effective drugs plus pyrazinamide (PZA), irrespective of the likely effectiveness of PZA in an individual patient. Whether this regimen should be supplemented in the absence of likely PZA effectiveness is an open question.

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to examine (1) whether individuals receiving four likely effective drugs (based on documented susceptibility or no prior exposure) experienced higher mortality during the intensive phase of treatment than those receiving five likely effective drugs and (2) whether the WHO-recommended regimen (four likely effective drugs plus PZA) may be compromised in individuals in whom PZA is not likely effective.

Methods: Among 668 patients, we compared the hazard of death across regimen groups characterized by the number of likely effective drugs and whether pyrazinamide was one of the likely effective drugs.

Measurements and main results: Relative to five likely effective drugs, regimens of four likely effective drugs and the WHO-recommended regimen used in individuals in whom PZA was not likely effective were associated with higher mortality rates (respectively, adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 2.87; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.35-6.09 and adjusted HR, 2.76; 95% CI, 0.92-8.27). The mortality rate for a regimen of five likely effective drugs with likely effective PZA was similar to that for the regimen of five likely effective drugs without PZA (HR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.12-8.00).

Conclusions: Mortality may be reduced by the inclusion of five likely effective drugs, including an injectable, during the intensive phase of treatment. If PZA is unlikely to be effective in an individual patient, these results suggest adding a different, likely effective drug.

Keywords: drug resistance; mortality; tuberculosis drug therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / drug effects*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Pyrazinamide / administration & dosage*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant / microbiology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / microbiology


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Pyrazinamide