MSF and TB activists protest at 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health
The protesters urged pharma corporations to make improved drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) treatment affordable and available for hundreds of thousands of people around the world who desperately need it
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) joined tuberculosis (TB) activists to disrupt the opening ceremony of the 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health in Hyderabad today, urging pharmaceutical corporations to make improved drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) treatment affordable and available for hundreds of thousands of people around the world who desperately need it. For the first time in over half a century, there are three new DR-TB drugs – bedaquiline, delamanid and, most recently, pretomanid – that can offer people a better chance to be cured, but barriers to access including high prices are preventing their scale-up by countries. Only 20 per cent of people with DR-TB who need these newer drugs have been able to receive them.
According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) Global TB Report, in 2018, an estimated half million people fell ill with DR-TB, yet only one in three started treatment. DR-TB cure rates remain unacceptably low: only 56 per cent and 39 per cent of people treated for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) were successfully cured, respectively.
“Bedaquiline, delamanid and pretomanid have shown the potential to cure more people of DR-TB with far fewer side effects than older toxic treatments that need to be injected and are still used in most countries,” said Sharonann Lynch, HIV & TB Policy Advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign. “It’s inexcusable that drug corporations continue to put profits over people’s lives, as if medicines were a luxury. It’s time to smash the status quo: all three newer TB drugs must be affordable to ev