A lower price for rifapentine is just a start — communities need more than discounts to access TB preventive therapy!
On 31 October 2019, at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Hyderabad, India, Unitaid and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria announced an agreement with Sanofi to discount the price of key TB prevention drug rifapentine by 66%. Rifapentine is the backbone of shorter regimens to prevent TB including 3HP (12 weeks of rifapentine and isoniazid taken once-weekly). The discount brings the price of a 3HP treatment course to approximately USD $15 for 100 countries.
Civil society released a statement welcoming the availability of lower-priced rifapentine, while expessing concerns that the discounted price does not apply to all countries and calling attention to other barriers limiting access to rifapentine that must be overcome.
"We urgently need lower-priced rifapentine and this discounted price is a welcome step forward. But we are concerned that only 100 countries are eligible to access this discounted price. Our statement outlines our view of what actions Sanofi and other actors must take to ensure that rifapentine-based TB preventive therapy becomes available, accessible, and affordable for all. In particular:
- We call on Sanofi to turn this discount into a true price decrease by setting a single global access price available to all countries.
- We call on Sanofi to expedite the registration of rifapentine, focusing on countries where registration is a requirement for accessing the product, as well as those that have hosted clinical trials of rifapentine.
- We call on Sanofi to expand rifapentine production capacity, and on generic manufacturers to expedite the development and introduction of quality-assured generic versions of rifapentine, including in combination with isoniazid.
- We call on generic companies to expedite the development and introduction of patient-friendly formulations of rifapentine and isoniazid, including pediatric formulations, and to price these new formulations affordably.
We remind donors and the global health community that rifapentine and isoniazid are old drugs, neither of which was discovered or developed by Sanofi. Rifapentine is now off patent, and isoniazid was never patented. As such, we consider rifapentine and isoniazid to be global public goods. It is imperative that all actors approach this discount as an opportunity to ensure TB preventive therapy reaches everyone in need."
The full statement can be accessed here.