Johnson & Johnson is a committed partner in the global fight against tuberculosis (TB) and is dedicated to ensuring that bedaquiline, our multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) medicine, reaches patients around the world. To date, Johnson & Johnson has shipped more than 84,000 courses of bedaquiline for patients in need in 114 countries, including all MDR-TB high-burden countries.
Ensuring access to bedaquiline in India is a top priority for Johnson & Johnson, given the country’s high burden of MDR-TB (i.e., more than a quarter of the world’s cases). We’ve worked to expand access to bedaquiline, and we are collaborating with partners to build health systems capacity and ensure appropriate use of our antibiotic to protect its efficacy for the future.
Ensuring Access Today
Since 2016, India has been accessing bedaquiline through a four-year donation program that we operate in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and a stockpile of medicine is readily available to treat patients.
Globally, the donation program started out as a commitment to donate 30,000 courses of bedaquiline in eligible countries, including India, with the aim of enabling countries to build capacity to introduce a new TB antibiotic. In response to high demand, we have since tripled our commitment—now offering to donate up to 90,000 courses of bedaquiline globally before the donation program ends on March 5, 2019.
Following this, India will be able to procure bedaquiline via the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility at our not-for-profit price of $400, announced in July 2018. This price enables us to support manufacturing, distribution and surveillance programs to safeguard the antibiotic’s effectiveness. Bedaquiline is cost-effective, and the price is on par with some decades-old generic drugs.
Beyond this, Johnson & Johnson will continue to support India’s efforts to scale up and accelerate its MDR-TB efforts—in support of the country’s ambitious goal of ending TB by 2025—by continuing our efforts to improve diagnostic capacity, train health workers on the clinical management of TB and raise awareness about TB at the community level. We are also working closely with scientists at India’s Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), to accelerate the discovery of innovative new tuberculosis treatments.
It is important to remember that bedaquiline was the first novel medicine for drug-resistant TB in nearly 50 years—and it is therefore critically important to protect its effectiveness. We have carefully selected our manufacturing partners in India and Russia—to which we have transferred the manufacturing know-how for bedaquiline—and maintain a strong focus on providing quality-assured product and implementing strong stewardship programs to prevent resistance to the medicine from developing.
Innovating for the Future
Johnson & Johnson is committed to remaining in the fight against TB for the long haul. In September 2018, we announced a comprehensive 10-year TB initiative, aimed at saving an estimated 1.8 million lives and preventing 12 million new TB infections in the next decade.
In addition to access to treatment, this initiative will focus on supporting high-burden country governments with patient finding—given that currently only 139,000 of the world’s half a million DR-TB patients are properly diagnosed and connected with treatment every year. We are also accelerating research and development to discover next-generation TB treatments—which will be urgently needed to achieve the global community’s goal of a world without TB.