Dramatic price reduction in key preventative TB drug announced at Union World Conference

Today at a press conference on prevention at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health, Sanofi, Unitaid and the Global Fund announced they will significantly lower the price of rifapentine, a critically important drug used to prevent tuberculosis (TB). In a landmark agreement between the three organisations, the price of rifapentine (Priftin®) will undergo a 66 percent discount. The deal will help efforts to treat latent TB infection, broadening access within the public sectors of low-income countries, lower-middle income countries, and upper-middle-income countries with a high burden of TB and TB-HIV.

The announcement follows news earlier in the week, about the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) M72/AS01E vaccine, which was found to contribute to preventing TB in 50 percent of people receiving it.

“If we are to end the TB emergency, we need a prevention revolution,” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union in a statement. “It is indeed timely that we are seeing such promising movement on all facets of prevention – vaccines, drug prices and new drugs – now we need to ensure that going forward, preventing wherever we treat becomes the new normal.”

At the press conference, other significant announcements related to the prevention of TB were also unveiled:

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will launch a Phase III multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) prevention trial, known as Phoenix, in 12 high burden countries including India.
  • Valerie Schwoebel, Pediatric TB consultant for The Union, detailed final results from the TITI study, showing that some 1,700 children under five years of age have been saved from potentially developing TB in four countries in Francophone Africa.
  • Matthew Saunders from Imperial College, London, revealed results from a cluster randomised trial in Peru demonstrating the benefits of socioeconomic interventions to optimise the completion of TB screening and preventive therapy among household members in TB-affected households.
  • Leo Martinez of US-based Stanford University, reported study results relating the contribution of TB infection and disease activation to the increased risk among diabetics, demonstrating that preventive therapy was highly effective in preventing disease progression in infected diabetics.

Speaking to journalists at the press conference where the results were announced, Dr Jamie Tonsing, Director of The Union South East Asia office in New Delhi talked of Nandita Venkatesan, a TB Survivor, advocate and journalist, who featured in the Opening Ceremony earlier in the week: “we will be failing people like Nandita by failing to address prevention.”

TB prevention is one of the main themes of the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health.

Watch this press conference.

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