Professor Wallace Fox
Friday 26 November 2010
In the obituary for Professor Wallace Fox (24 November), no mention was made of his greatest achievement, which was the design and testing of the current six-month regimen for the treatment of tuberculosis which has been adopted world-wide by the World Health Organisation, writes Professor Denny Mitchison. The introducion of this regimen has been responsible for the saving of literally millions of lives and is probably the most important advance in public health made during the past 50 years.
The work started with a multi-centre trial of uniquely modern design in East Africa that demonsratetd the value of rifampicin and pyrazinamide in shortening treatment from 12 to six months. It was then followed by a co-ordinated development programme in East Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore and Madras. We can now treat TB successfully for under £40 in drug costs. Wallace was the undoubted leader in all of this work of the British Medical Research Council, with willing collaborators in the various countries. While we still would like to shorten treatment even further, this programme cut the sting of one of the world's most feared and dangerous diseases.
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