• Sanjay Trivedi

Price reduction in key preventative TB drug announced at Union World Conference

At a press conference on prevention at the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health, Sanofi, Unitaid and the Global Fund announced they will significantly lower the price of rifapentine, a critically important drug used to prevent tuberculosis (TB). In a landmark agreement between the three organisations, the price of rifapentine (Priftin®) will undergo a 66 percent discount. The deal will help efforts to treat latent TB infection, broadening access within the public sectors of low-income countries, lower-middle income countries, and upper-middle-income countries with a high burden of TB and TB-HIV.

The announcement follows news earlier in the week, about the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) M72/AS01E vaccine, which was found to contribute to preventing TB in 50 percent of people receiving it. “If we are to end the TB emergency, we need a prevention revolution,” said José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union in a statement. “It is indeed timely that we are seeing such promising movement on all facets of prevention – vaccines, drug prices and new drugs – now we need to ensure that going forward, preventing wherever we treat becomes the new normal.”

At the press conference, other significant announcements related to the prevention of TB were also unveiled:

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will launch a Phase III multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) prevention trial, known as Phoenix, in 12 high burden countries including India.

  • Valerie Schwoebel, Pediatric TB consultant for The Union, detailed final results from the TITI study, showing that some 1,700 children under five years of age have been saved from potentially developing TB in four countries in Francophone Africa.

  • Matthew Saunders from Imperial College, London, revealed results from a cluster randomised trial in Peru demonstrating the benefits of socioeconomic interventions to optimise the completion of TB screening and preventive therapy among household members in TB-affected households.

  • Leo Martinez of US-based Stanford University, reported study results relating the contribution of TB infection and disease activation to the increased risk among diabetics, demonstrating that preventive therapy was highly effective in preventing disease progression in infected diabetics.

Speaking to journalists at the press conference where the results were announced, Dr Jamie Tonsing, Director of The Union South East Asia office in New Delhi talked of Nandita Venkatesan, a TB Survivor, advocate and journalist, who featured in the Opening Ceremony earlier in the week: “we will be failing people like Nandita by failing to address prevention.” TB prevention is one of the main themes of the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health.

New online course in TB prevention launched

The course, launched during a press conference on TB prevention, is entitled Prevent Tuberculosis: Management of TB Infection. The completely open access and online training programme is geared towards national TB and AIDS programme staff and clinicians, including paediatricians, pneumologists, general practice physicians, clinical officers, nurses and paramedical staff, and other health care workers involved in TB services.

Ensuring people have access to diagnosis and appropriate care at the earliest stage after exposure to TB is critical to reducing TB transmission and ending the epidemic. There are no scenarios in which we can end the global TB epidemic without a much greater focus on TB prevention. The course is designed to improve knowledge in all aspects of management of TB infection, with the aim of increasing country-level implementation of TB prevention services. The course’s purpose is to support public health systems to improve TB preventive care for persons who have been exposed to TB bacteria, with emphasis on children under five years, people living with HIV and people who are household contacts of people with pulmonary TB and are at risk to develop TB disease.

Marianne Gaye-Ayrault, Global Training and Education Director said “We hope that with the help of this course public health systems will be able to improve TB preventative care for persons who have been exposed to TB bacteria. "The course gives an emphasis on children under five years, people living with HIV and people who are household contacts of people with pulmonary TB”. Learners who successfully complete the course receive an accredited certificate of completion.

Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Group of Hospitals co-chaired The 50th UnionWorld Conference On Lung Health at Hyderabad, India. 1 out of 4 in world are infected with TB virus & 48% of TB patients are in India & China TB is a health, economic & social crisis. Corporates can do a lot to spread awareness & remove social stigma. @ApolloHospitals & @ficci_india are happy to work with @TheUnion_TBLH to find innovative solutions to control & create #TBFreeIndia by 2025 as laid out by our @PMOIndia

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