In this study published in PLOS ONE, MSF and Treatment Action Group (TAG) report on the public investments made in the research and development (R&D) behind Cepheid’s GeneXpert diagnostic testing system for infectious diseases. GeneXpert test cartridges and machines are used to diagnose TB, HIV, COVID-19, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections, and other diseases.
The analysis, led by TAG, found that the public invested at least US$252 million in GeneXpert R&D over the last decade. This substantial public investment stands in stark contrast to the lack of affordable pricing and favourable service-and-maintenance terms from Cepheid for GeneXpert in low- and middle-income countries.
“Earlier analysis by MSF showed that it costs Cepheid less than $5 to produce one test while Cepheid is charging low- and middle-income countries a mark-up of at least 100% for TB tests and 300% for COVID-19 test. Cepheid’s profiteering during the COVID-19 pandemic is unacceptable, especially considering the massive amount of public funds that Cepheid received to develop the GeneXpert technology and roll out the system in low- and middle-income countries.” - Stijn Deborggraeve, Diagnostics Advisor for Infectious Diseases, MSF Access Campaign, and study co-author