Organisations call for price drop of new TB treatment

Organisations call for price drop of new TB treatment

Johnson and Johsnon's new drug-resistant TB medication is considered significantly less toxic and more effective.

Pills, medication

A group of non-profit organisations has called on Johnson & Johnson to lower the prices of its new drug-resistant tuberculosis treatment.

South Africa recently became the first country to replace injections - considered to be toxic - with the new medication, which can be taken as a pill.

The new drug - bedaquiline - is considered more effective than the now previously used injections, known to lead to hearing loss and considered very painful.

But bedaquiline currently costs the South African government roughly R1800 for a monthly course.

The group of organisations site research by the University of Liverpool into the costs of the treatment.

It reportedly found bedaquiline could be sold at a profitable price of between R106 and R212 per month.

As a result, the organisations - the Treatment Action Campaign, TB Proof, Section 27, and the Global Tuberculosis Community Advisory Board among them - are calling on the company to lower that price to around R420 per month.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals - the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary manufacturing the drug - currently holds a monopoly over it due to the patent it has.

"So far Janssen has failed to license the drug to the Medicine Patent Pool to ensure the sustainability and affordability of supply to developing countries," reads a joint statement by the organisations.

The group has given Johnson & Johnson until September to implement price-cuts, failing which "we will start taking concrete steps to advance the issuing of compulsory licenses" to allow for greater competition.

The company is yet to respond to the call.

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