Hope for TB patients as doctors call for reduction in drug price


MSF says lowering price will boost war against resistance

Wednesday March 18 2020

A global campaign has been launched, calling on pharmaceutical corporation Johnson & Johnson (J & J) to lower the price of its anti-tuberculosis medicine bedaquiline to no more than US$1 per day (about Sh 100) for people who need it around the world.

Bedaquiline is one of the only three effective TB drugs to be developed in over 50 years.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said lowering the price of bedaquiline will enable a scale-up of drug-resistant treatment and reduction of deaths.

Currently, J & J charges double the price that MSF is asking — about $400 for a six-month treatment course for countries eligible to buy the drug through the Global Drug Facility (GDF).

GDF is a TB drug and diagnostic procurement mechanism, operating out of a UN agency.

MSF has called for the price cut, attributing this to the joint contributions made in the development of this drug, including by MSF itself. “Bedaquiline was developed using taxpayer money and contributions from the global TB community,” said Sharonann Lynch, HIV & TB Policy Advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign.

“Those who contributed to bedaquiline’s development should have a say in how the drug is priced. We’re calling on J & J to price bedaquiline at no more than $1 per day so that it can be made available to all people with drug-resistant TB. We will not back down until the price of bedaquiline is brought down.”

Kenya has been listed as a multi-drug-resistance tuberculosis high-burden country, together with eight other nations grappling with the deadly disease globally.