Pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is facing renewed pressure from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to bring down the cost of tuberclosis medicine bedaquiline to scale up the treatment of the drug-resistant strain and bring down the number of deaths recorded annually.
MSF Thursday renewed their push to have the drugs lowered to below Sh100, about half of the current price tag.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF), says its demanding this price cut “considering the joint contributions made in the development of this drug, including by MSF itself.”
Bedaquiline is one of the only three effective TB drugs to be developed in over 50 years.
MSF said currently, J&J charges double the price that MSF is asking – about Sh40,000 ($400) for a six-month treatment course for countries eligible to buy the drug through the Global Drug Facility (GDF)- a TB drug and diagnostic procurement mechanism, operating out of a UN agency.
“Bedaquiline was developed using taxpayer money and contributions from the global TB community,” said HIV & TB Policy Advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign, Sharonann Lynch.
“Those who contributed to bedaquiline’s development should have a say in how the drug is priced. We’re calling on J&J to price bedaquiline at no more than $1 per day so that it can be made available to all people with drug-resistant TB. We will not back down until the price of bedaquiline is brought down.”
J&J owns the patent on the drug in many countries and has sole rights to determine in which countries the drug will be sold, MSF said.
Kenya has been listed as a drug-resistance tuberculosis (DR-TB) high-burden country globally.
In Kenya, MSF was the first to introduce the anti-TB drug (bedaquiline) in 2016, and is one of the local NGOs and health ministry’s partners in offering free TB treatment in Kenya.