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Johnson & Johnson cuts price of anti-TB medicine in poorer countries

Published on 07/07/20 at 11:04am
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Johnson & Johnson have announced that it will cut the price of its tuberculosis drug Bedaquiline, sold under the brand name Sirturo.

The price will be cut from $400 to $340 for a six month treatment in low to middle income countries, which will include 135 nations. This comes to about $1.50 per day for treatment. This could lead to estimated savings of $16 million for national tuberculosis programs according to the Stop TB Partnership.

Lucica Ditiu, the Stop TB Partnership's Executive Director, said: “This new agreement is a welcome development and one that will help us move closer to the United Nations High-Level meeting target of treating 1.5 million people with DR-TB by 2022. Even though these days we fight against the new COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot let this new virus stop our progress against TB.”

This move comes as the coronavirus pandemic threatens to derail effects to curtail the spread of this disease. It is estimated that between 2020 and 2025 COVID-19 could cause an additional 1.4 million TB deaths according to the World Health Organization.

New treatments against TB have been sparse with another drug pretomanid becoming only the third new medicine for the disease to be approved in 40 years, after Johnson & Johnson drug and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co Ltd’s delamanid.

Médecins Sans Frontières has welcomed the news but have said the price should be reduced even further to about $1 per day.  Lara Dovifat, campaigns and advocacy advisor at MSF’s Access Campaign, said: “While we anxiously wait for more affordable generic versions of bedaquiline to become available today's price reduction is a helpful step."

Conor Kavanagh

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