Johnson & Johnson Announces Five Initiatives to Help Find the ‘Missing Millions’ of Undiagnosed People Living with Tuberculosis
Three out of 10 people with TB go undiagnosed and untreated, a situation exacerbated by health disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
Collaborating with the Global Fund, USAID, PATH and others will help more people access TB care
These initiatives build on Johnson & Johnson’s longstanding commitment to tackling TB and addressing health inequity in high-burden countries
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J., 24 March 2021 – In recognition of World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, Johnson & Johnson today announced a series of new commitments and collaborations in support of global efforts to find and deliver care to the millions of adults and children living with TB who have not yet been diagnosed. Successfully identifying these people, especially those living with multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB), remains one of the most significant obstacles in achieving the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal of ending TB by 2030.
These initiatives—together with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund); U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); PATH; Aquity Innovations and several private sector organizations—will help to identify more people living with TB and help enable them to access care. Three of the initiatives will focus specifically on improving pediatric diagnosis and treatment, while two will accelerate care for adults.
“While the world has made strides in recent years against TB, COVID-19 threatens this hard-won progress as more people living with TB are now going undiagnosed,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer of Johnson & Johnson. “Johnson & Johnson is committed to supporting urgently-needed efforts to help identify the ‘missing millions’ of undiagnosed individuals with TB and connect them with care to help put the world back on track toward ending this disease by 2030.”
In 2019, approximately 3 million of the 10 million people who developed TB were missed, or not diagnosed. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation by straining health systems, diverting resources and disrupting access to care for people living with TB. Earlier this month, the Stop TB Partnership reported that nine countries accounting for 60 percent of the global TB burden reported significant declines in the number of people diagnosed and treated for TB during 2020, setting the overall total of people diagnosed and treated in those countries back by 12 years, to levels not seen since 2008. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that TB deaths may increase dramatically if case-finding efforts are disrupted over a prolonged period and people living with TB are not identified and able to access lifesaving care.
“Solving the challenge posed by TB – especially now, in light of COVID-19-related disruptions, requires us to think differently and work together in new and innovative ways,” said Adrian Thomas, M.D., Vice President, Strategy & External Affairs, Global Public Health, Johnson & Johnson Services Inc., and Private Sector Constituency Board Member for the Stop TB Partnership. “We are proud to announce a new series of collaborations aimed at connecting our unique capabilities, together with those of our collaborators, to help more people with TB access care, address inequities in high-burden countries and ensure continued progress toward ending TB.”
Collaborating with USAID and Others to Diagnose More Children with TB
An estimated 32,000 children fall ill with MDR-TB each year, yet fewer than 1,000 of these cases are appropriately reported and treated. Johnson & Johnson is collaborating with a variety of organizations, including USAID, PATH and Aquity Innovations, to address this challenge and meet the unique needs of children impacted by drug-resistant TB (DR-TB).
- Johnson & Johnson is supporting USAID to launch a new program to increase awareness and improve local capacity to diagnose and treat pediatric DR-TB in high TB-burden countries. USAID and Johnson & Johnson will provide technical support, convene stakeholder meetings and lead workshops involving children’s health workers, healthcare facilities and others to support the implementation of country-specific pediatric TB roadmaps and build on programs that identify children living with DR-TB and provide them with lifesaving care.
- In Vietnam, Johnson & Johnson and PATH have expanded on the success of Breath for Life (B4L), an initiative launched in 2016 that aimed to accelerate pediatric TB case detection, treatment and prevention through the strengthening of health systems in the northern rural mountainous province of Nghe An. The expansion of this effort has focused on scaling this approach nationwide by activating the National Tuberculosis Program system at all levels, mobilizing public-private networks, engaging communities and families, and advocating for policy change at the national level.
- Johnson & Johnson is working with Aquity Innovations in South Africa to improve diagnosis and treatment for children and adolescents living with DR-TB. This initiative includes capacity building efforts to support training and mentorship programs, social mapping to improve contact tracing and elevating local TB champions and advocates, among other activities. Notably, with Johnson & Johnson’s support, Aquity Innovations has helped to reopen a pediatric TB ward that was initially closed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leveraging Cross-Sector Capabilities to Detect Cases of Adult TB
Even before the emergence of COVID-19, less than half of the approximately 500,000 new cases of DR-TB each year were properly diagnosed. By collaborating with national governments, not-for-profit organizations and other members of the private sector, Johnson & Johnson is helping to bring care to these people and protect the vulnerable communities in which many of them live.
- Project inSight is a new collaboration between Johnson & Johnson and the Global Fund in Indonesia and the Philippines that will further understanding of why it can be difficult to identify DR-TB patients. By combining the Global Fund’s scale and reach and Johnson & Johnson’s unique expertise in consumer and patient insights, new strategies can be devised to amplify efforts to identify, engage and support people living with DR-TB, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Johnson & Johnson is also announcing new commitments from suppliers, including Covance by Labcorp, IQVIA, PRA Health Sciences, Recipharm and VVF Ltd. South Africa, to join the Ending Workplace TB initiative, alongside other new corporate members Cepheid, Freeport McMoRan, Otsuka, PerkinElmer, Qiagen and Société Générale. These companies are joining an innovative, multi-sectoral partnership launched at Davos in January 2020 by Johnson & Johnson; the World Economic Forum; the Global Fund; the Stop TB Partnership; Royal Philips; Fullerton Health; the Confederation of Indian Industry and USAID, which leverages the untapped potential of businesses in countries disproportionately impacted by TB to roll out awareness, detection and treatment programs in their workplaces to reach millions of workers, their families and communities. TB disproportionately impacts people during their most productive years, and business-led efforts against the disease serve as an important complement to national TB programs.
Notes to editors
TB is a forgotten respiratory disease that still kills 1.4 million people each year, more than any other infectious disease prior to the emergence of COVID-19. It is a bacterial, airborne disease with the WHO reporting cases in all countries worldwide in 2019. Incidence and deaths due to TB have been declining steadily over the last several years as a result of intensified activities by high-burden countries to find people with TB early and provide appropriate treatment; however, in 2020, countries reported a significant drop-off in the notification of TB cases, likely due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
About Multidrug-Resistant TB (MDR-TB)
Growing resistance to the most commonly used drugs is compounding this public health challenge. Worldwide in 2019, close to half a million people developed drug-resistant TB (DR-TB), of which 78% had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB)—a form of TB that does not respond to at least isoniazid and rifampicin, the two most powerful anti-TB drugs.
Improvements in diagnosis and treatment rates are needed to help control the DR-TB epidemic. In 2019, less than half of the new cases of DR-TB were diagnosed, meaning that approximately 300,000 people with the disease were not even aware they are infected, posing a significant threat to human health and global health security.
Johnson & Johnson’s Commitment to TB
Johnson & Johnson has been a committed partner in the global fight against TB for more than two decades. In 2012, Johnson & Johnson introduced the first novel TB medicine in nearly half a century, which is now helping to transform treatment for multidrug-resistant TB. To date, Johnson & Johnson has provided more than 373,000 courses of treatment to 145 countries, including the 30 countries with the highest burden of MDR-TB.
In September 2018, Johnson & Johnson announced a comprehensive 10-year initiative in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal target of ending the TB pandemic by 2030. The initiative aims to improve the global detection of undiagnosed TB cases, broaden access to treatment for MDR-TB and accelerate R&D to develop new tools that will be needed to end TB. Building on these efforts, in October 2019, the Company announced its commitment to invest USD $500 million to help end the TB and HIV epidemics.
About Johnson & Johnson
At Johnson & Johnson, we believe good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress. That’s why for more than 130 years, we have aimed to keep people well at every age and every stage of life. Today, as the world’s largest and most broadly-based healthcare company, we are committed to using our reach and size for good. We strive to improve access and affordability, create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. We are blending our heart, science and ingenuity to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity.
Cautions Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 regarding TB and HIV. The reader is cautioned not to rely on these forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations of future events. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or known or unknown risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results could vary materially from the expectations and projections of Johnson & Johnson. Risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: challenges and uncertainties inherent in product research and development, including the uncertainty of clinical success and of obtaining regulatory approvals; uncertainty of commercial success; manufacturing difficulties and delays; competition, including technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges to patents; product efficacy or safety concerns resulting in product recalls or regulatory action; changes in behavior and spending patterns of purchasers of health care products and services; changes to applicable laws and regulations, including global health care reforms; and trends toward health care cost containment. A further list and descriptions of these risks, uncertainties and other factors can be found in Johnson & Johnson’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended January 3, 2021, including in the sections captioned “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” and “Item 1A. Risk Factors,” and in the company’s most recently filed Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, and the company’s subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Copies of these filings are available online at www.sec.gov, www.jnj.com or on request from Johnson & Johnson. None of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies nor Johnson & Johnson undertakes to update any forward-looking statement as a result of new information or future events or developments.
 This initiative is being supported by Johnson & Johnson Foundation Scotland