A pioneering tuberculosis (TB) test, the Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra, will now be available at a lower cost in low-income countries, thanks to pressure from campaigners and a high-profile internet campaign led by author John Green. The life sciences firm Danaher Corporation, in partnership with subsidiary Cepheid, has agreed to reduce the price of the TB test cartridge by 20%, making it more affordable and accessible for patients in developing countries.
Campaigners, including the Stop TB Partnership and Médecins Sans Frontières Access, had been urging Danaher to address the issue of the test’s high price, which was preventing many patients from accessing the necessary diagnostic tool. Green’s involvement and the subsequent internet campaign played a significant role in pushing Danaher to cut the cost of the TB test cartridge.
This development marks the second major victory for Green in recent months. He previously led a pressure campaign against Johnson & Johnson, which eventually led to the company allowing a low-cost generic version of a popular TB drug. Green’s efforts highlight the power of collective activism and the impact that individuals can have on important global health issues.
Danaher has committed to providing the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria with the TB tests “at cost,” without making any profit from their sales. The price of the tests will be reduced from $9.98 to $7.97, making them more accessible to millions of people in the least developed countries. The company has also pledged to undergo a third-party assessment of the cost and adjust pricing if necessary to ensure that it continues to operate without making a profit from the cartridge sales.
Rainer M. Blair, the CEO of Danaher, stated that the agreement to provide affordable TB tests is part of the company’s commitment to solving critical healthcare challenges around the world. TB is the leading cause of infectious disease-related deaths globally, and accurate and fast diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment.
The success of this campaign is credited to the efforts of multiple partners, TB survivors, civil society, advocates, and ordinary citizens who care about the issue. Danaher faced significant pressure from memes, emails, and calls orchestrated by Green and his followers. The company found itself flooded with requests to lower the price of the TB diagnostic cartridges.
The reduction in price of the TB tests is seen as a step in the right direction, but there is still more work to be done. Tuberculosis remains the world’s most deadly infectious disease, causing 1.5 million deaths annually. Access to affordable and effective treatment is essential in combating this disease and saving lives.
Peter Sands, the executive director of the Global Fund, welcomed Danaher’s commitment, stating that reducing the price of TB tests will significantly expand access to communities most in need. This price reduction will help scale up testing efforts and contribute to saving lives.
In a YouTube video, John Green expressed his excitement about the progress made in the fight against TB. He acknowledged the impact this will have on millions of lives and praised the collective efforts of the community and long-time advocates. Green emphasized that the work is far from finished and that there is a need for price reductions on other TB tests.
In conclusion, the agreement by Danaher Corporation to reduce the cost of the Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra TB test cartridge is a significant development in improving access to critical diagnostic tools in low-income countries. The pressure from campaigners and the high-profile internet campaign led by John Green played a crucial role in pushing for this change. The reduced price will allow for more affordable and accessible testing for millions of people, helping to address the global burden of tuberculosis. Nonetheless, the fight against TB is ongoing, and further efforts are needed to ensure affordable and effective treatment options for all individuals affected by this deadly disease.