Background: Maintaining the quality of clinical specimens for tuberculosis (TB) testing is a major challenge in many high TB burden-limited resources countries. Sample referral systems in low and middle income countries are often weak and the maintenance of the cold-chain challenging and very costly for TB programs. The development of transport media allowing the preservation of samples without refrigeration is critical for increasing access to TB diagnostic services and for reducing the costs related to testing. Methods: We evaluated the performance of OMNIgene-SPUTUM (OM-S) reagent for the maintenance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) viability in sputum samples in the absence of refrigeration and its capacity to stabilize nucleic acid for molecular testing. A total of 329 sputum specimens from presumptive TB cases collected at the National Reference Laboratory in Tirana, Albania, were either decontaminated by a conventional method or processed with OM-S reagent and stored at room temperature. Samples in OM-S were shipped to the Supranational Reference Laboratory in Milan, Italy, at various times and processed for liquid culture. Results: Our data show thatOM-S maintains MTB viability for at least three weeks in the absence of refrigeration and improves the quality of culture resulting in a contamination rate lower than 0.5%. However, a significant delay in the time to culture positivity was observed for samples stored for more than two weeks in OM-S. Conclusions: Overall, OM-S offers multiple benefits both at laboratory and TB national program level by increasing the availability to quality diagnostics, promoting access to health care services and strengthening TB patient care especially in hard to reach populations. © 2017 The Author(s).