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Leprosy (cont.)

Leprosy Treatment

Patient Comments

Leprosy is a curable disease using the highly effective MDT (multidrug therapy).

  • In 1981, a World Health Organization Study Group recommended multidrug treatment with three medications: dapsone, rifampicin (Rifadin), and clofazimine (Lamprene).
  • This long-term treatment regimen cures the disease and prevents the complications associated with leprosy if started in its early stages.
  • These medications have been distributed free to all patients with leprosy since 1995, and the WHO distributes the medications in convenient monthly calendar blister packs.
  • After the first doses of these medications, patients are no longer infectious and they do not transmit the disease to others.
  • Widespread resistance of M. leprae to a full course of MDT has not developed.

The National Hansen's Disease Programs (NHDP) currently recommends different treatment regimens for patients with tuberculoid and lepromatous leprosy.

  • NHDP recommendations
    • Tuberculoid leprosy
      • Twelve months of treatment using rifampin and Dapsone daily
    • Lepromatous leprosy
      • Twenty-four months of treatment using rifampin, dapsone, and clofazimine daily

The WHO recommended therapy for leprosy is given significantly shorter and less often, as this treatment policy is based upon practical considerations in countries with fewer medical resources. However, the relapses with treatment according to the WHO recommendations are significantly greater than those with the NHDP recommended therapy.

Individuals who develop type 1 or type 2 reactions may require other medications.

  • Type 1 reaction (reversal reaction)
    • Treatment may include the use of corticosteroids, salicylates, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Type 2 reaction (ENL)
    • Treatment may include the use of corticosteroids, salicylates, NSAIDs, clofazimine, and thalidomide (Thalomid).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/17/2015
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