The news was lauded by medical advocates and celebrities, including novelist John Green, who recently led a high-profile social media campaign pressuring the pharma giant to expand access to the drug.
Despite being curable, tuberculosis is the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killing 1.5 million people a year, according to the World Health Organization.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) said it ‘applauds’ Stop TB Partnership and the TB community overall for their strong leadership and advocacy in inking this vital agreement.
However, while the deal is a positive step, AHF agrees with advocates, including Médecins Sans Frontières and others, that this is a short-term solution and urges J&J to do more for other lower-income countries that still lack access.
Terri Ford, chief of global advocacy and policy at AHF, said: “Tuberculosis kills 1.6 million people annually and remains the leading cause of death for people living with HIV. We are glad to see steps in the right direction with the licensing agreement between J&J and Stop TB Partnership and hope the pharma giant continues to set a positive example for other drug manufacturers to follow for improved access to intellectual property to produce more affordable generic medicines."
“That said, this doesn’t let J&J off the hook for its past profiteering with its COVID-19 vaccine and other drugs. It shouldn’t take a massive advocacy campaign by civil society organizations for pharmaceutical companies to put lives before profit.”
While AHF remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ it says details of this agreement must be made public.
In addition, it is being reported that countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which have some of the world’s highest burden of drug-resistant TB, are left out of the J&J deal.
As such, AHF is urging J&J to grant unfettered access to all countries that need this lifesaving medicine.