Lotti Rutter lotti.rutter at mail.tac.org.za
Fri Dec 4 08:51:41 PST 2015



*CAPE TOWN, 4th DECEMBER 2015:* Today, activists at the 46th Union World
Conference on Lung Health demanded that pharmaceutical company Sanofi be
held accountable for endangering failing to provide life-saving products to
people and children living with TB and drug resistant TB in South Africa
and across the world. Activists from the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC),
SECTION27, the Global TB Community Advisory Board, the Treatment Action
Group (TAG), the Global Coalition of TB Activists (GCTA) and the ITPC.
brought the exhibition room to a halt by picketing at Sanofi’s stand to
highlight a catalogue of morally reprehensible behavior.

“We’re picketing today because we are fed up of Sanofi putting its bank
balance ahead of the lives of our people. Medicines are a necessity, not a
luxury. Sanofi’s research is crucial but is meaningless if it doesn’t help
people in need,” said Blessi Kumar from the Global Coalition of TB

Shortages of the BCG vaccine

Earlier this year Sanofi stopped manufacturing the BCG vaccine because it
was not generating enough profit through global sales. In stopping
production, Sanofi caused a shortage of the vaccine felt in South Africa
and across many other countries. BCG is used to prevent some TB infection
in young children and is the only such vaccine available.

“Sanofi put thousands of children’s lives at risk by stopping production of
the BCG with no warning. Where was the plan for ensuring a steady supply of
production? Pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to ensure access
to the medicines and vaccines that people rely on to survive,” said Portia
Serote from the TAC.

Charging unaffordable prices for linezolid

Linezolid is one of the only medicines available to treat XDR-TB. Many
patients in South Africa and across the world would not be alive today had
they not received it. Yet in South Africa, it remains out of reach for many
people in desperate need. Due to the cost, doctors must make a strong case
for use in the public sector and many patients aren’t approved. Instead,
patients must pay the exorbitant private sector prices of R655/per tablet
(USD $47) – or for those unable to pay, go without and likely die. Sanofi
does not produce linezolid but rather only imports it from Hetero, an
Indian manufacturer, and distributes it in South Africa with an exorbitant
mark up. The global price for this product is about R76 per tablet (USD
$5.35-5.48), but Sanofi is marketing it in South Africa at almost ten times
that price, at R655 (USD $47).

“The cost of linezolid is unacceptably high. MSF procures the medicine for
a fraction of the cost at R109/per tablet ($7.90) – yet Hetero and Sanofi
continue to charge wildly high prices. It is the only hope for many
patients and because of these high prices they are dying. The National
Department of Health put out a tender to procure linezolid in the public
sector but none was purchased, suggesting the companies set a price that
was prohibitively high. We demand Sanofi and Hetero reduce the price of
linezolid to allow access for all those in desperate need of it to
survive,” said Anele Yawa, General Secretary of the TAC.

Clinical trials without medicine registration

Sanofi is too slow in registering new TB medicine, rifapentine, in South
Africa. This is despite the fact that clinical trials of the medicine have
been done in the country. Rifapentine is used in the United States as part
of a new, much shorter regimen for TB prevention. It is deeply unethical to
test a medicine or regimen in a population and not ensure access to that
medication post trial. “Sanofi has been a leader in investing in
researching new strategies to fight TB, but can do MUCH more to guarantee
access. We know Sanofi are taking steps to make rifapentine available in
other countries, but they must do so quickly and ensure affordability,”
said Erica Lessem from the Treatment Action Group (TAG).

For more information, contact:

Lotti Rutter – Treatment Action Campaign - 081 818 8493

*Lotti Rutter*
Senior Researcher
Policy, Communications and Research

Treatment Action Campaign
Tel: 021 487 4515
Cell: 081 818 8493
Skype: lotti.rutter
Twitter: @TAC @FixPatentLaw @lottirutter

*www.tac.org.za* <http://www.tac.org.za/>

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