Historic price reductions will allow millions more people to receive TB prevention, treatment and testing.
New York, November 7, 2023 — Three recent announcements of tuberculosis (TB) medicine and diagnostics price reductions access will enable millions more people to receive TB preventive therapy, and to be tested and treated for TB. Announced alongside the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis (TB) in September, these victories across the cascade of TB care were the result of years of targeted, spirited, and informed mobilization from the TB community. The World Health Organization’s release today of the 2023 Global TB Report revealing 10.6 million people fell ill and 1.3 million people died of TB in 2022 underscores the urgency of scaling up these interventions.
“These wins show what’s possible when advocates build demand for new interventions in communities and channel it into advocacy for access and policy change,” noted Lindsay McKenna, Treatment Action Group’s TB Co-Director. “Community leadership created an enabling environment vital for these price reductions.”
“From boardrooms to internet meme culture, from grassroot NGOs to ministries of health, from open letters to formal petitions, we used a range of tactics in these campaigns to hold pharma accountable. We stayed persistent and principled, for our goals are clear,” said Ketho Angami, a member of the Global TB Community Advisory Board and Access to Rights and Knowledge Foundation, India. “Our success shows putting people over profits can prevail.”
The three advances featured the main tools for preventing, diagnosing and treating TB—the three primary aspects of TB care. Each of these advances reflect dedicated activism, including the Time for $5, 1/4/6×24, and #RightToPreventTB campaigns. The announcements featured price reductions of:
1) Up to 55% for bedaquiline, a critical drug used to treat drug-resistant TB (DR-TB), from $289 to as low as $130 per six-month treatment course. Johnson & Johnson, the pharmaceutical company that produces bedaquiline also committed to not enforce secondary patents on bedaquiline for drug-resistant TB in low- and middle-income countries, paving the way for generic competition and further price reductions;
2) 20% for GeneXpert tests for detecting TB and resistance to rifampicin, from $9.98 to $7.97 per test. Danaher/Cepheid, who produce the tests, committed to selling TB tests at cost (as verified by an independent third-party expert) with no profit to low- and middle-income countries; and
3) 30% in the price of 3HP (isoniazid and rifapentine), from $14.25 to $9.99 per preventive treatment course, with $25 million in support from USAID and PEPFAR to enable this short-course, once-weekly preventive therapy regimen to reach an additional 2.5 million people.
“TB has seen remarkable innovation in the past two decades, but science can only save lives if its benefits are affordable, available and accessible to all,” added Erica Lessem, Program Director at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and 1/4/6×24 campaign member. According to WHO, in 2022, only 47% of people were diagnosed with a rapid molecular test; less than 1 million people received rifamycin-based short course preventive therapy regimens; and, while 40 countries started using the six-month regimen for DR-TB, according to the Stop TB Partnership, access to the four-month regimen for drug-susceptible TB is minimal for children and almost non-existent for adults.
Dr. Gabriella Ferlazzo, TB Medical Adviser with Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign, remarked, “TB, a neglected but curable disease, keeps killing millions of people year after year. With long-fought price reductions finally coming through for better tests and drugs, governments’ TB commitments now need to be turned into real actions to save lives, and to do so, the massive gap in funding for TB must be addressed.”
“And though tools are essential, they alone cannot end TB,” said Patrick Ulysse, Chief Operating Officer of PIH. “In addition to the ‘stuff,’ we also need staff, space, systems, and social support. We urge governments around the world to provide the necessary funding and make good on the commitments from the High-Level Meeting.”
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Access to Rights and Knowledge (ARK) Foundation is a grassroot level patient group organization. The Foundation has its strength in local advocacy mobilization aimed at breaking down treatment access barriers. While the organization continues to partner with many Government Departments and developmental partners, advocacy for better diagnostics and treatment remains the core agenda. ARK Foundation has been part of many such engagements at the Local, National and Global level, significantly on works pertaining TB, HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Drug Use.
Global TB Community Advisory Board (TB CAB) is a group of research-literate, community-connected activists from around the world that act in an advisory capacity to product developers and institutions conducting clinical trials of new TB drugs, regimens, diagnostics, and vaccines, and provide input on study design, early access, regulatory approval, post marketing, and implementation strategies. The TB CAB is dedicated to increasing community involvement in TB research and access to tools to fight TB and to mobilizing political will.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation. The Access Campaign is a part of MSF and works to bring down barriers that keep people from getting the treatment they need to stay alive and healthy, advocating for effective drugs, tests and vaccines to be available, affordable, and accessible. This includes advocating for access to affordable and effective TB treatment: MSF is the largest non-governmental provider of TB treatment worldwide and has been involved in TB care for 30 years. In 2022, MSF treated more than 17,000 people with TB, including 2,300 people with DR-TB, in over 60 TB projects in 41 countries.
Partners In Health Founded in Haiti in 1987, Partners In Health (PIH) is a nonprofit social justice organization working to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need. Some 30 years later, it has a documented history of implementing effective health delivery models in partnership with governments and academic institutions around the world, providing high-quality care to millions of patients. Learn more at www.pih.org.
Treatment Action Group (TAG) is an independent, activist, and community-based research and policy think tank committed to racial, gender, and LGBTQ+ equity; social justice; and liberation, fighting to end HIV, tuberculosis (TB), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). TAG catalyzes open collective action by affected communities, scientists, and policymakers to ensure that all people living with or impacted by HIV, TB, or HCV — especially communities of color and other marginalized communities experiencing inequities — receive life-saving prevention, diagnosis, treatment, care, and information. We are science-based activists working to expand and accelerate vital research and effective community engagement with research and policy institutions for an end to the HIV, TB, and HCV pandemics. More information is available here: https://www.treatmentactiongroup.org/.
Source: Treatment Action Group