Gamechanger: USAID and Janssen Therapeutics announce US$30 million worth of free bedaquiline to treat drug-resistant TB

12th December, 2014 - Geneva, Switzerland - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Johnson & Johnson affiliate, Janssen Therapeutics, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to provide a newly developed tuberculosis drug for free to patients suffering from strains of TB that are resistant to two or more antibiotics.

Under the MoU, Janssen will donate $30 million worth (30,000 treatment courses) of the drug SIRTURO® (bedaquiline) over a 4 year period through USAID's programs for the treatment of drug-resistant TB. The drug donation will enable nearly 100 low- and middle-income eligible countries to access the life-saving drug for free under certain conditions.

"Our work to combat the scourge of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is far from over," said Dr. Paul Stoffels, chief scientific officer and worldwide chairman, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson. "With nearly half a million people affected worldwide and approximately 210,000 losing their lives to this disease in 2013, we are engaging in pioneering partnerships with likeminded stakeholders invested in global public health. Collaborating with USAID improves access to potentially lifesaving medicines for people living with MDR-TB."

This commitment builds upon and strengthens the company’s agreement with the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility to facilitate access to quality-assured medicines. Over the coming months, Janssen and USAID will engage with the global TB community to solicit support, develop eligibility criteria and engage others to help address this public health crisis.

"USAID remains committed to addressing the growing concern around antibiotic resistant bacteria as outlined in President Obama’s Executive Order and supporting introduction and appropriate use of new drugs to fight MDR-TB," said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah.

"This is of tremendous importance for us all and we want to congratulate USAID and Johnson & Johnson for this step forward. It means that thousands of patients can get access to a new and effective antibiotic otherwise not available in their countries. It is now our responsibility, as a TB community, as national programs, and as clinicians to ensure that we use this opportunity wisely to save lives." said Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership, which runs the Global Drug Facility. "It sets an important precedent for collaboration between pharmaceutical companies and international organizations to tackle drug resistant TB. We in the Stop TB Partnership stand ready to assist to make the initiative a success."

A new report released yesterday in the United Kingdom estimates that failure by governments to take action on drug resistant infections such as tuberculosis will lead to over 10 million deaths a year and cost the global economy up to $100 trillion by 2050. The report, which found that drug resistant E. coli, malaria and tuberculosis would have the biggest impact, is the first time the potential impact of drug resistant infections have been quantified.