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Johnson & Johnson and Lupin Make Strides: Affordable Tuberculosis Drug

 Johnson & Johnson and Lupin Make Strides: Affordable Tuberculosis Drug

Johnson & Johnson and Lupin Make Strides: Affordable Tuberculosis Drug
Johnson & Johnson and Lupin Make Strides: Affordable Tuberculosis Drug(Image-Getty)

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) and Lupin (LUPN.NS), a pharmaceutical company based in India, have made a significant announcement through a global anti-tuberculosis organization. They plan to offer their versions of the tuberculosis drug bedaquiline at considerably reduced prices in low- and middle-income nations. The announcement was made by the Stop TB Partnership, an initiative supported by the United Nations.

The pricing adjustments unveiled by the companies are indeed noteworthy. Johnson & Johnson has decided to lower the cost of bedaquiline to $130, while Lupin's version will be priced at $194 for a six-month treatment course. These price points reflect a substantial 55% decrease for Johnson & Johnson's product and a 33% reduction for Lupin's offering.

Bedaquiline is a pivotal drug in the fight against tuberculosis, particularly in cases involving drug-resistant strains. It's a part of the select group of new drugs that have been developed to combat tuberculosis in the last fifty years. The treatment is integral to the recommended regimens for tackling drug-resistant TB infections.

The impact of this price reduction is momentous, according to Atul Gawande, Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development's Global Health Bureau. Gawande has stated that this significant price cut will not only enhance access to the life-saving medication but also contribute to the global goal of eradicating tuberculosis by 2030.

To make the drug more accessible, the Stop TB Partnership's Global Drug Facility will be responsible for facilitating the distribution of bedaquiline at the lowered prices. This facility, known as the largest procurer of TB treatments, will play a vital role in ensuring the availability of the medication to those who need it.

The agreement between Johnson & Johnson, the producer of bedaquiline sold under the brand name Sirturo, and the Stop TB Partnership came into existence after concerns were raised by advocacy groups and author John Green. These parties criticized the conglomerate for enforcing patents on the drug in numerous countries. Johnson & Johnson argued that these patent claims did not hinder access to the medication.

The reaction from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, has been positive. They have expressed their satisfaction with the substantial price reduction, highlighting that it brings the cost closer to the estimated generic price of around $0.50 per day.

However, the possibility of further increasing access to the drug has been mentioned by Christophe Perrin, a TB advocacy pharmacist associated with MSF's Access Campaign. Perrin suggests that Johnson & Johnson could make a significant impact by withdrawing secondary patents on bedaquiline in high-burden countries, a move that could further improve access to this crucial medication.

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