Médecins Sans Frontières responds to the news of the donation:
“Janssen’s new TB drug bedaquiline has been on the market for two years, yet to date around only 500 people have been treated with the drug. Bedaquiline has shown promise in successfully treating the deadliest forms of tuberculosis, and is recommended by WHO for this use, but the drug’s lack of registration in countries, high price and slow research efforts are hindering its wider use.
“Drug donations are not a long-term solution to meeting the needs of patients; donations are time-limited stopgap fixes that come with restrictions on where, how and who can access the medicine. The best way to get as many people on treatment as possible is for Janssen to simply offer the drug at a more affordable price for everyone in low- and middle-income countries.
“It remains to be seen which countries will benefit from the donation programme, but we believe it should include all high-burden and TB-endemic countries.”
“With the TB community waiting for new TB drugs for 50 years and more than 200,000 patients dying from MDR-TB every year, the very slow uptake of bedaquiline is a scandal. It is crucial to start closing the treatment gap, and we urge all treatment providers to move swiftly towards putting more people on available treatments, including regimens that include new TB drugs.
MSF also calls on all TB medicine manufacturers to offer their drugs at prices that ensure access for all people who need it, and this means considering the total cost of multiple drugs needed for TB regimens. Only by significantly scaling up the number of people diagnosed with drug-resistant tuberculosis, with all patients receiving treatment, will we see a drastic fall in the rate of new infections and deaths from this crisis.
- Dr Jennifer Cohn, Medical Director, Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign.