[Ip-health] UNITAID Press Release: UNITAID CALLS FOR INNOVATION AND MARKET APPROACHES TO BATTLE TB
unitaid at who.int
Wed Mar 23 06:23:11 EDT 2011
UNITAID PRESS RELEASE
UNITAID CALLS FOR INNOVATION AND MARKET APPROACHES TO BATTLE TB
No new drugs in over 40 years for developing world's eighth largest
Geneva, 23 March 2011 - In the lead-up to World TB Day, on 24 March,
UNITAID calls on research institutes and pharmaceutical companies to
accelerate the development of new, faster-acting treatment regimens, and
on multilateral agencies and developing countries to help create market
space for these. Infecting approximately nine million people yearly, TB
is treated with old medicines difficult to take and often with serious
"We will simply not reach the Millennium Development Goal of eliminating
TB if we continue in a business-as-usual manner," said Philippe
Douste-Blazy, Chair of the UNITAID Executive Board. "Innovation in
diagnosing and treating - but also in creating market incentives for
that innovation - must be at the forefront of the global fight against
this serious public health problem."
Most recent tuberculosis drugs are variations of pre-existing medicines.
The last TB drug with a completely new active ingredient, rifampicin,
was discovered almost half a century ago.
The current regimen for standard TB involves four different medicines
taken over six to nine months. Because of the lengthy, arduous process,
many patients desist on their treatment and go on to develop resistant
strains of the disease. Medicines for multi-drug resistant TB are
extremely expensive - ranging from US $ 2 000 to 5 000 for six months -
and few are quality-assured. Treatment can take up to eighteen months.
Although children account for up to a fifth of all new cases of active
tuberculosis in high-burden settings, paediatric TB diagnosis and
treatment has been largely neglected and there is a dearth of
appropriate and adapted paediatric TB drug formulations.
"TB is largely a developing world problem and this is why there is
little incentive for companies to invest in research and development,"
said Jorge Bermudez, Executive Secretary of UNITAID. "Agencies involved
in TB control need to pool their resources and provide innovators the
needs forecasting and predictable funding that will hopefully translate
into innovators' investment into research and development."
According to WHO, there are around 9 million new cases of TB, and close
to 2 million people die from the disease each year. TB ranks as the
eighth leading cause of death in low- and middle-income countries
(seventh for men and ninth for women). Among adults aged 15-59, it ranks
as the third cause of death, after HIV/AIDS and ischaemic heart disease.
TB is now the top killer of people living with HIV.
UNITAID and TB
UNITAID uses innovative financing (mostly from a solidarity levy imposed
on airline tickets in a number of its donor countries) to purchase and
distribute medicines and other health commodities to test and treat
AIDS, TB and malaria in 94 developing countries.
UNITAID invests in a number of TB projects with the aim of fostering the
creation of a (currently limited) market for quality paediatric
medicines for children under 15, including special formulations for
children under four, and better medicines for multi-drug resistant TB.
In accordance with its mandate of innovation, UNITAID has also invested
in a new diagnostic for multi-drug resistant TB, which shortens the
testing timeline from two months to two days.
(the French version will be available shortly on the website)
Contact: Daniela Bagozzi, UNITAID Communication, Tel. +41 22 791 45 44;
Mob. +41 79 475 54 90; Email bagozzid at who.int
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