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BACKGROUND:People with recurrent or drug-resistant TB require long courses of intramuscular injections. We evaluate a novel system in which patient-nominated lay carers were trained to deliver intramuscular injections to patients in their own homes. METHODS:A pragmatic, individually randomised non-inferiority trial was conducted at two hospitals in Malawi. Adults starting TB retreatment were recruited. Patients randomised to the intervention received home-based care from patient-nominated lay people trained to deliver intramuscular streptomycin. Patients receiving standard care were admitted to hospital for 2 months of streptomycin. The primary outcome was successful treatment (alive and on treatment) at the end of the intervention. RESULTS:Of 456 patients screened, 204 participants were randomised. The trial was terminated early due to futility. At the end of the intervention, 97/101 (96.0%) in the hospital arm were still alive and on treatment compared with 96/103 (93.2%) in the home-based arm (risk difference -0.03 (95% CI -0.09 to 0.03); p value 0.538). There were no differences in the proportion completing 8 months of anti-TB treatment; or the proportion experiencing 2-month sputum culture conversion. The mean cost of hospital-based management was US$1546.3 per person, compared to US$729.2 for home-based management. Home-based care reduced risk of catastrophic household costs by 84%. CONCLUSIONS:Although this trial failed to meet target recruitment, the available data demonstrate that training patient-nominated lay people has potential to provide a feasible solution to the operational challenges associated with delivering long-term-injectable drugs to people with recurrent or drug-resistant TB in resource-limited settings, and substantially reduce costs. Further data under operational conditions are required. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:ISRCTN05815615.

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Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK