India widens access to tuberculosis drug
Rejection of patent extension is good news for patients
TB is the top global killer among infectious diseases , and the Indian government plans to eliminate it by 2025 .
Health authorities in India have rejected Johnson &
Jonhson ’ s application to extend the patent on the essential tuberculosis ( TB ) medication bedaquiline , paving the way for the production of cheaper generic versions that will make treatment more accessible and financially viable .
Bedaquiline is a tablet that plays an important therapeutic role against TB as it can be used to treat those cases that have proved resistant to other medications . Its patent will expire in July , despite Johnson � Johnson ’ s efforts to extend it until 2027 .
The NGO Médecins Sans Frontières ( MSF ) hailed the patent rejection as a crucial step towards easing access to the lifesaving drug and reducing the burden of the disease .
“ This is a seminal decision taken by one of the countries in the world most affected by TB . It is high time that we have alternate manufacturers supplying bedaquiline at lower prices , especially as the scale-up of the all-oral , shorter , six-month drug-resistant TB regimens by TB programmes is being planned around the world ,” Leena Menghaney , Global IP Advisor , MSF Access Campaign , said in a press release .
In 2021 , about 1 . � million people died of TB , with about �2 percent occurring in the WHO African and Southeast Asia regions , according to the Global Tuberculosis Report 2022 . India alone accounted for 36 percent of the deaths in those regions .
The case to stop the patent renewal was started by two patients with TB to help more people avoid the potentially debilitating side effects from other TB treatments . �My fellow TB survivor Phume�a Tisile from South Africa and I filed a patent challenge against J�J in 201� , because we wanted to ensure that the safer , oral and more efficacious drug bedaquiline was available to all people who need it and to make sure that no one ever has to endure side effects like we did , such as permanent hearing loss due to toxic injected drugs ,” Nandita Venkatesan , one of the petitioners , said in a press release .
Pharmaceutical companies in the country have already started working on generic versions of the drug , and one of them should be available in August , according to the Guardian , which quotes some estimates suggesting the monthly cost could be cut by about �0 percent , from �S��6 per patient to �S�� .
TB is the top global killer among infectious diseases , and the Indian government plans to eliminate it by 2025 , beating the target date set by the WHO End TB Strategy that aims to reduce global incidence by �0 percent and deaths by �0 percent by 2030 .
To achieve the goal , the Indian government has undertaken a number of initiatives , such as enhanced awareness about TB , especially in villages , stepped up preventive treatment across the country , a new programme to support family caregivers with tools for counselling , and capacity building , while also providing cash incentives to patients in order to improve nutrition . �ndernutrition is a key risk factor for the condition and caused 2.2 million new TB cases in 2021 , according to the WHO .
38 ISSUE 2 | 2023 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com