MSF: TB test price reduction by Cepheid and Danaher is an important step in the right direction

Cepheid and its parent company Danaher announced today that they are reducing the price of the Xpert MTB/RIF test for TB by 20 percent in high-TB-burden countries from US$9.98 to $7.97 per test. 

This reduction is a significant step, considering the corporations have refused to reduce the price of this test for over ten years. While this is a major step, the corporations are not reducing the price of the Xpert MTB/XDR test that is used to diagnose the most severe form of TB, which will remain exorbitant at $14.90, nor are the tests for other diseases included in this reduction. MSF calls Cepheid and Danaher to work towards further price reductions of the other cartridges, so that more people can access tests that can save their lives.

The GeneXpert diagnostic testing technology produced by Cepheid has revolutionized TB testing since entering the market in 2010. However, because of the high prices that Cepheid has been charging for the GeneXpert tests, scaling up TB testing to all people who need it has remained a challenge and has forced many TB care providers to rely on cheaper but less sensitive testing using microscopes, a method developed in the 1800s. MSF analysis has estimated that it costs Cepheid less than $5 to manufacture one GeneXpert TB test, while Cepheid has been charging MSF and high-burden low- and middle-income countries double and triple that price per TB test for years. For the last ten years, the companies have refused to lower their TB test prices.

Stijn Deborggraeve, Diagnostics Advisor, MSF Access Campaign talks about the announcement:

Today’s price announcement by Cepheid and its parent corporation Danaher is an important step in the right direction, and comes after years of public pressure to reduce the price of the TB Xpert tests. We commend the activism and enthusiasm of the global coalition of civil society and TB activists that escalated the ‘Time For Five’ campaign over the last week and made this important reduction happen.
More than one in three people with TB goes undiagnosed, and undiagnosed TB kills people, so having more affordable tests will allow treatment providers and governments to test more people and offer them the treatment they need to stay alive and get healthy again
While the announced price reduction is timely and critical, we regret that Cepheid and Danaher have chosen to still charge $14.90 for the XDR-TB test, which is used to diagnose the deadliest form of TB – the price remains more than triple what it costs Cepheid to produce a single test cartridge, according to an independent analysis commissioned by MSF in 2019, which identified the production costs to be between $3 and $4.60 per cartridge
With the high volumes of GeneXpert tests being purchased by governments and treatment providers in low- and middle-income countries, economies of scale should continue to bring the production costs down, and Cepheid and Danaher must pass along these savings to people in affected countries. In addition, Cepheid did not develop the GeneXpert testing technology alone – they benefitted from at least $250 million in public money to develop the GeneXpert test.
Cepheid and Danaher have stated that with this price reduction, the corporations will now be selling the TB test (MTB/RIF) ‘at-cost,’ so MSF invites the company to be fully transparent and make the production cost of GeneXpert tests public.
We urge Cepheid and Danaher to make further price reductions for the test to detect XDR-TB (MTB/XDR) and the tests for other diseases to make a meaningful difference for the lives of more people in low- and middle-income countries

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