All OK for less expensive TB medication
The bedaquiline medicine, a crucial anti-tuberculosis medication, was recently denied by India's patents office, allowing less costly generic copies of this life-saving medication to enter the market. The attempt by Janssen Pharmaceutica, a Belgian company controlled by Johnson & Johnson, to prolong its monopoly in India on bedaquiline beyond the original patent's expiration this July was denied by the Controller of Patents in Mumbai in response to a plea from two TB survivors. Drug-resistant TB is treated with bedaquiline.
Patients' rights organisations praised the ruling, saying it would allow other pharmaceutical firms to make generic versions that, according to some estimates, would cost between $8 (Rs 650) and $17 (Rs 1,400) per person each month as opposed to $45 (Rs 3,700) for the patented form. Leena Menghaney, an attorney and intellectual property counsel for Medecins Sans Frontieres, a global humanitarian organisation, stated, "This is a significant choice. "It's about time we had cheaper suppliers of bedaquiline from other producers."
The choice is being made at a time when bedaquiline-containing short-term treatment regimens for drug-resistant TB are being scaled up in India and other nations in response to fresh evidence of their efficacy and appeals for the World Health Organization to embrace them (WHO). Nandita Venkatesan from India and Phumeza Tisile from South Africa, both TB survivors, had contested Janssen's patent application in February 2019. They claimed that the claims were not innovative, lacked inventiveness, and did not improve the medication's effectiveness.
The so-called "evergreening" of patents, which involves prolonging the 20-year monopolies by slight modifications to the chemical makeup of the medications, is prohibited by "health protections" in the Indian patent rules, according to certain patient rights organisations. We are aware of two or three pharmaceutical firms that are ready to provide the globe with bedaquiline in generic form and who have applied to the WHO for pre-qualification authorization.
The Narendra Modi administration's dedication to TB control was praised by a senior global health expert on Thursday, who said that "clones" of Modi are needed in "every single nation" across the globe. After Modi set an Indian objective to "eradicate" TB in 2018 by achieving huge reductions in incidence and mortality by 2025, five years ahead of a worldwide 2030 target, the government has started a number of programmes to scale up TB testing and treatment.
According to Lucia Ditiu, executive director of the STOP TB Partnership, a worldwide organisation dedicated to TB control, "We would want to have clones of Prime Minister Modi in every single nation in the globe to care and advocate for extremely strong action to save the lives of people with TB." Ditiu's appreciation for recent government measures, according to experts acquainted with India's TB control efforts, seemed to ignore the difficulties that patients continue to face in receiving early diagnoses and effective treatment.