Govt welcomes J&J’s decision to lift patents on TB drug

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The National Health Department has welcomed the announcement by Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to lift patents on the life drug bedaquiline.

The cost of the key drug bedaquiline, used to treat MDR-TB, has dropped by 40%.

This announcement makes way for the manufacturing of cheaper, generic versions of the drug to be sold in 134 low-and-middle-income countries.

The Department’s Head of National TB Programme, Dr Norbert Ndjeka, says South Africa has been receiving bedaquiline at a reduced price prior to 2018.

“We were the first to introduce bedaquiline and at that stage, there was already a price reduction, we used to buy it for close to R10 000 for six months of treatment prior to 2018 and through negotiations by Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, our minister by then, we had a decrease from R10 000 to R5 400 already in 2018. A further 40% reduction is really big news, we are hoping that we would be able to find even more people put them on treatment, an get all the benefits we desire as a TB programme.”

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