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US company Cepheid to make top-end TB detection cartridges in India

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on July 12, 2018 Published on July 12, 2018

As India sets itself an ambitious target of eradicating tuberculosis (TB) by 2025, the US-based molecular diagnostics company Cepheid Inc is looking to scale up its involvement in that journey.

Cepheid's GeneXpert line of diagnostic systems are already part of the WHO-endorsed technology for diagnosing TB.

Peter Farrell, Cepheid's Executive Vice-President (Worldwide Commercial Operations), said that they would manufacture in India Xpert® MTB/RIF test cartridges which run on the GeneXpert® System. And this, even as they bring in GeneXpert® Edge, the newest configuration in the family.

Investment decision

A decision will be taken in 90 to 120 days, Farrell told BusinessLine, on whether they will go solo and set up a production facility or whether it will be through its parent company Danaher. It would be operational in the third quarter of 2019, he said.

Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test can simultaneously detect tuberculosis (MTB) and rifampicin-resistant mutations, which are markers for multi-drug resistant TB strains, in under two hours.

Jai Shankar Krishnan, Danaher's President and Chief Executive (India and South East Asia), said that they had multiple manufacturing sites in the country. But Cepheid's plans to bring in GeneXpert® Edge and its localisation initiative further reflected their commitment, he said.

Access pricing

The benefits of having a local production would mean better access for people living with TB, reduced inventory costs and better shelf-life, said Farrell, adding that the price was unlikely to change just yet as it was already being supplied at an access price of $9.98 for a cartridge. In fact, the pricing given to countries with a high TB burden has also been extended to IPAQT, a consortium of private labs for TB testing, he explained.

Cepheid's localisation initiative is important since India accounts for over one-quarter of the TB cases, globally. Published data points to over 4 lakh deaths in India every year due to delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment and over 2.5 million new cases of TB every year, Farrell pointed out.

In the last two years, over 1,200 Cepheid’s GeneXpert Systems have been installed at various sites of the government's Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP). The company said that the GeneXpert® Edge system was expected to be available in India later this year.

Published on July 12, 2018
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