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BackgroundThere have been no major advances in tuberculosis (TB) drug development since the first East African/British Medical Research Council short course chemotherapy trial 35 years ago. Since then, the landscape for conducting TB clinical trials has profoundly changed with the emergence of HIV infection, the spread of resistant TB bacilli strains, recent advances in mycobacteriological capacity, and drug discovery. As a consequence questions have arisen on the most appropriate approach to design and conduct current TB trials. To highlight key issues discussed: Is a superiority, equivalence, or non-inferiority design most appropriate? What should be the primary efficacy outcome? How to consider re-infections in the definition of the outcome? What is the optimal length of patient follow-up? Is blinding appropriate when treatment duration in test arm is shorter? What are the appropriate assumptions for sample size calculation?MethodsVarious drugs are currently in the development pipeline. We are presenting in this paper the design of the most recently completed phase III TB trial, the OFLOTUB project, which is the pivotal trial of a registration portfolio for a gatifloxacin-containing TB regimen. It is a randomized, open-label, multicenter, controlled trial aiming to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a gatifloxacin-containing 4-month regimen (trial registration: database: NCT00216385).ResultsIn the light of the recent scientific and regulatory discussions, we discuss some of the design issues in TB clinical trials and more specifically the reasons that guided our choices, in order to best answer the trial objectives, while at the same time satisfying regulatory authority requirements.ConclusionWhen shortening TB treatment, we are advocating for a non-inferiority, non-blinded design, with a composite unfavorable endpoint assessed 12 months post treatment completion, and added trial procedures specifically aiming to: (1) minimize endpoint unavailability; and (2) distinguish between relapse and re-infection.

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Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, Tropical Epidemiological Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK.


Humans, Tuberculosis, Fluoroquinolones, Antitubercular Agents, Treatment Outcome, Directly Observed Therapy, Drug Therapy, Combination, Research Design, Time Factors, Africa, Gatifloxacin