Open letters to Johnson & Johnson requesting equitable access to bedaquiline

Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Moldova demand that Johnson & Johnson take urgent action to improve equitable access to bedaquiline in all countries with a high burden of TB.

The Ukraine’s national TB program, the Belarus’ national TB program, and TB activists and civil society from Ukraine, Moldova and Azerbaijan sent open letters to Johnson & Johnson requesting urgent action to improve equitable access to the lifesaving TB drug bedaquiline in their respective countries, and all other countries with a high burden of TB.

On 13 July 2023 the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility (GDF) and Johnson & Johnson announced a deal to supply generic bedaquiline to low- and middle-income countries after the primary patent expiry of the drug on 18 July 2023. The deal excludes South Africa, 10 Eastern European and Central Asian countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine), and China. The new, reduced price of bedaquiline, which will be valid through December 2024, was announced by GDF on 30 August 2023, presenting price reductions up to 55% compared to the previous price of US$289 for a 6-month treatment course of bedaquiline.

In the beginning of August, Médecins Sans Frontières, Partners In Health and Treatment Action Group sent an open letter to Johnson & Johnson requesting detailed responses to questions and concerns regarding the deal with GDF, announced on 13 July 2023. No reply has been received so far. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson is being investigated in South Africa for allegedly charging 'excessive' prices for bedaquiline. On 15 September 2023, the Competition Commission opened the investigation based on information that the company 'may have engaged in exclusionary practices and excessive pricing' of the drug, sold in the country under the brand name Sirturo.

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By TB advocates

Published: Sept. 22, 2023, 7:40 a.m.

Last updated: Sept. 28, 2023, 2:28 p.m.

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