Sanofi, the French pharmaceutical giant today announced that it will slash prices of its TB drugs by almost 66 percent in a bid to help the global fight against Tuberculosis which is on the increase and has caused more than 1.8 million deaths in 2018 alone.
The move comes as the United Nations seeks to galvanize the campaign against TB and also as US researchers are developing a new treatment.
Many healthcare professionals hailed Sanofi's decision to cut the price of its rifapentine drug by two thirds, and also commented that the medical shield offered by such treatments would be crucial to the UN aim of eradicating the disease by 2030.
Lelio Marmora, head of Unitaid, a global health initiative that helped broker the landmark deal between the firm and the Global Fund commented in a phone interview with Thailand Medical
News, "This lifesaving drug has, until now, been completely unaffordable in developing countries. This agreement will help transform political commitment to tangible action.
The world's third biggest pharmaceutical maker by turnover, Sanofi has cut the price of a three-month course of rifapentine from $45 to $15 for 100 poor nations struggling with the disease. The cheaper price means aid agencies and governments will be able to use the medicine more widely in their treatments.
Rifapentine, combined with the drug isoniazid, helps shield a person who has the TB infection from developing the disease but also from passing it on to others.
India accounts for a quarter of world's TB cases, while Africa and South America and the rest of Asia represents almost 60 percent of the total infections.
The decision of the price cut follows an announcement earlier this week by Britain's GlaxoSmithKline that a new vaccine
tested in three African nations had shown particular promise.
The vaccine treatment had 50 percent effectiveness three years after it was given to participants in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia who already have TB bacteria but have not fallen ill.
The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) also announced today that it was launching a huge trial across more than 12 countries for people exposed to drug-resistant strains of the disease. The study will test a new drug on vulnerable populations such as children and those with weakened immune systems, including HIV-positive people.
NGOs and Aid agencies have become increasingly frustrated at the slow pace of fighting the disease, with the existing vaccine almost a century old and only good for limited forms of the illness.
Certain strains of the illness have become resistant to some drug treatments because of their irregular use.The reason drug-resistant TB is such a problem is because it is so much more difficult to treat, it costs so much more to treat and also... the morbidity and mortality is much higher.
President Emmanuel Macron from France last month pressured donors to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria amid fears that gains in tackling the diseases are being lost because countries are more reluctant to donate cash. Macron said $13.92 billion was pledged, just short of the target of $14 billion.
Of late Tuberculosis is fasts spreading and claiming lots of lives and the rate of drug resistant and also extremely drug resistant strains or XDR is emerging at rapid rates and bewildering many researchers.