5 barriers from Big Pharma preventing people getting lifesaving TB drugs

Tuberculosis (TB) is not a disease of the past. Every year, 1.5 million people die of it – that’s more than 4,000 people every day. But pharma companies are not providing the SOLUTION as you might expect. 

Here we list 5 BARRIERS which pharma corporation Johnson and Johnson (J&J) and other Big Pharma are creating that stop people living with TB from getting the lifesaving medicines they need.

This includes the TB drug bedaquiline, critical for people living with drug-resistant TB.

BARRIER 1: Greedily priced drugs

It costs just US$0.25 to 0.50 to make the newer TB drug bedaquiline – and still sell it at a reasonable profit.  

But J&J charge at least EIGHT TIMES that price for bedaquiline in developing countries.  

Given that TB treatment requires people to take a combination of different medicines – up to 14,600 pills over two years – high prices put effective treatment way beyond the reach of most people with TB in developing countries.

BARRIER 2: Dud donations

Dud donations: To dodge the critics, J&J is making dud donations. For example, the corporation donated just 20,000 treatment courses of bedaquiline to India.  

This is a shameful drop in the ocean seeing that there are 130,000 people in India with the complicated forms of TB that need treatment with bedaquiline.  

BARRIER 3: More, more, and yet more profit

J&J are trying to wring out yet more profits by blocking more affordable versions of bedaquiline in India for an additional FOUR years.

This condemns people with drug-resistant TB to another four years taking outdated and ineffective TB treatments that only cure one in two people and that require daily painful injections with traumatic side effects.  

BARRIER 4: Big Pharma has turned its back on people with TB

1.5 million people died of TB last year. But bedaquiline is one of only three new TB drugs developed over the past 40 years.

What’s worse, preferring to invest in drugs that will shower them with blockbuster profits, pharmaceutical corporations have shut down their R&D units for new antibiotics that could potentially cure the disease – leaving people with TB empty-handed.

BARRIER 5: Double dipping

Big pharma is taking us all for a ride: It’s estimated that taxpayers put three to five times the amount of funding into the development of bedaquiline as J&J.  

Yet, as with so many other drugs, public pay – research funding derived from your and my taxes – has been flipped into private gain by J&J – as they take the publicly-funded research, and then hike prices of the final medicines to boost profits and put a smile on shareholder faces. 

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