J&J doubles bedaquiline donation in India to 20,000 courses for timely access to TB patients

Shardul Nautiyal, MumbaiFriday, April 12, 2019, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

To prevent the emergence of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and help government build capacity for its timely access to patients, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has doubled bedaquiline donation in India to 20,000 courses from the earlier 10, 000 courses as part of conditional access programme (CAP) of Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP).

This will expand access for Indian patients in all 148 specialized MDR-TB centres and 428 district-level MDR-TB centres in the country. Ensuring access to bedaquiline in India is a top priority, given the country’s high burden of MDR-TB which is more than a quarter of the world’s cases.

The company is also partnering with Recipharm & Dishman India to locally manufacture bedaquiline for use in India and globally. It is also funding state governments and non-governmental organizations to provide over 49,000 X-ray tests, 21,000 molecular tests and 400 ECG machines to enhance early diagnosis and provide appropriate treatment.

It is also planning to accelerate TB research and development (R&D) to discover innovative next-generation treatments through partnerships with Indian research institutions.

The company introduced bedaquiline, antibiotic for pulmonary MDR-TB, in India in 2015 as a new TB treatment. J&J donated 10,000 courses of the medicine through a global donation program operated in partnership with the US Agency for International Development. In early 2019, in recognition of the disproportionate burden of TB in India, Janssen doubled its commitment to provide an additional 10,000 courses (a total of 20,000 courses) of bedaquiline free-of-charge to India.

Government has a vision for a TB-free India by 2025, as outlined in its National Strategic Plan for TB Elimination. According to the company’s spokesperson, “At J&J, we are fully committed to partnering with the Government of India to combat drug resistant-TB at all levels, from ensuring the appropriate and responsible scale-up of treatment to fueling innovation to develop new TB medicines–all together bringing the country one step closer to achieving its goal of ending TB. We’ve worked to expand access to bedaquiline and we are collaborating with partners to build health systems capacity and ensure appropriate use of our antibiotic to protect its efficacy for the future.”

Further, J&J is also supporting the government’s efforts to strengthen healthcare delivery systems and is also accelerating TB research and development (R&D) to discover innovative next-generation treatments and other tools that will be needed to reach the global goal of ending TB.

The company is also involved in improving treatment outcomes by providing nutritional support to approximately 6,000 TB and MDR-TB patients. It has supported the training of more than 13,000 healthcare professionals across seven high-burden states of India in clinical management of TB and MDR-TB.