Sanofi to reduce TB drug Rifapentine price by 70 per cent

Our Bureau Hyderabad | Updated on October 31, 2019


Major anti-TB and HIV drug Rifapentine’s price has been cut by nearly 70 per cent, as a result of an agreement announced on Thursday by pharma major Sanofi, Unitaid and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“The volume-based agreement will discount the price of a three-month treatment course of Rifapentine by nearly 70 per cent, from approximately $45 (over ₹ 3000) to $15 (₹ 1000) in the public sectors of 100 low and middle-income countries burdened by TB and TB/HIV co-infection,” a press statement jointly issued by the organisations stated.

The deal will bolster efforts to treat latent TB infection - currently estimated to affect 1.7 billion people worldwide - by broadening access to better preventive therapy.

India earlier this year approved this drug for use. Scale-up of affordable Rifapentine stands to benefit over 10 lakh persons in India alone, where more people suffer from TB than anywhere else in the world.

Read also: Price of new lifesaving TB drug, Pretomanid, too high, says MSF

Rifapentine is used in treating latent TB, which is when the disease has not actively manifested in the patient’s body but is lying dormant. When latent TB blows up into active infection, the patient becomes sick and displays a symptom. Rifapentine essentially halts that manifestation.

A quarter of the world’s population is infected with latent TB – they have no symptoms, are not contagious, and most do not know they are infected. Without treatment, 5 per cent to 10 per cent of these people – 8.5 crore to 17 crore people globally – will develop active TB, the form which makes people sick and can be transmitted from person to person.

Jon Fairest, Vice President, External Affairs Africa and Eurasia Middle East, Sanofi said, “We believe that this sustainable commercial approach will widen access to the new standard of care for latent tuberculosis infection.”

Unitaid’s Executive Director Lelio Marmora said, “This lifesaving drug has, until now, been completely unaffordable in developing countries. This agreement will help transform a political commitment to tangible action.”

HIV infection makes people up to 37 times more likely to fall ill with the active disease. Close to 15 million people die of TB every year.

Previously, preventive TB therapy took 6 to 36 months, and uptake was low. A Rifapentine-based regimen shortens treatment to 12 weekly doses in combination with another medicine, isoniazid. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of this regimen for treatment of latent TB infection in people living with HIV and contacts of TB cases of any age. Research shows that patients are far more likely to complete shorter treatment courses, the press release stated.

Published on October 31, 2019

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