3 Ways Johnson & Johnson Is Innovating to Help Fight Tuberculosis
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1.4 million. That's how many people tuberculosis (TB) killed in 2019, despite it being a preventable and treatable disease.
For years, one of the biggest impediments to global efforts to tackle TB has been growing resistance to the most commonly used medicines to treat the disease—in 2019 alone, there were nearly 400,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), which does not respond to the two most commonly-used TB medications currently available.
There's also the hurdle of diagnosis: While detection numbers had been on the rise prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still approximately 3 million people living with TB who don't know they have the disease. And every individual who remains untreated can infect up to 15 additional people over the course of a year, further fueling the TB pandemic.
COVID-19 is also posing new challenges. Not only do people with TB fear that they may be uniquely vulnerable to severe complications from COVID-19 if infected, but the pandemic has also disrupted already stretched systems of delivering TB care.
“COVID-19 is threatening hard-won gains in the fight against TB,” says Ana-Maria Ionescu, TB Access Strategy & Impact Leader, Global Public Health, Johnson & Johnson. “At Johnson & Johnson, we are committed to doing our part, in collaboration with governments and partners, to ensure that patients continue to receive the care they need during these unprecedented times.”
For example, in response to COVID-19, Johnson & Johnson launched the DR-TB Lifeline QuickFire Challenge, which is providing support to five organizations working to ensure continuity of care for drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) patients in India, the Philippines, South Africa and Ukraine.
Before the pandemic, Johnson & Johnson also launched a historic 10-year initiative in 2018 aimed at helping improve disease detection; broaden access to its novel medicine for MDR-TB; and accelerate research to develop more next-generation medicines.
It's a critical project—and the company is well on its way to delivering on some of the key commitments.
For World TB Day, we’re highlighting some of the strides Johnson & Johnson made through the initiative to help bring us closer to a TB-free world.