Medical officer, Neisha Mohess scans a sample of sputum for loading into the GeneXpert, an automated molecular TB diagnostic test machine. Photograph by Jose Cendon
Letter |

Open letter: Time to Lower the Price of Xpert Cartridges to US$5

According to the 2019 WHO Global TB Report, of the estimated 10 million people who fell ill with TB in 2018, only 7 million were diagnosed.

Diagnosing DR-TB is difficult and often inaccurate where outdated methods and technologies are used. In 2018, only 39% of people with DR-TB were diagnosed.

Photograph by Jose Cendon

Cepheid's GeneXpert system has revolutionised rapid, accurate testing for the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) since entering the market in 2010, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends Xpert MTB/RIF and Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra as the initial test for diagnosing TB.

Yet in large part due to the high price of Xpert cartridges, most high TB-burden countries have not sufficiently scaled up Xpert as the initial TB diagnostic test.

Instead, they continue to rely on the significantly less accurate, but more affordable method of sputum smear microscopy, leading to gaps in TB diagnosis and rapid linkage to effective treatment.

In order to improve the scale-up of Xpert tests to help properly diagnose more people the TB, as well as other deadly gaps in testing, we call for Cepheid to reduce the price of its Xpert and Xpert Ultra cartridges to US$5, inclusive of service and maintenance.