AMSTERDAM – South Africa has signed a deal with bedaquiline manufacturer Janssen to drop the price of the drug from $750 for a full course to $400, Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi announced here today. The news follows the announcement last month that South Africa will expand access to bedaquiline – one of the two new tuberculosis drugs to come out in over half a century – and stop the use of toxic and painful second-line injectable tuberculosis drugs in multi-drug resistant TB treatment.
“It is our hope that this will be the new price ceiling globally, not only in South Africa,” he said.
News of the price reduction and expanded access was met with applause at the AIDS 2018 pre-conference meeting focused on addressing the joined epidemics of HIV and TB. South Africa is the first country to roll out an injection-free MDR-TB treatment regimen and make bedaquiline available to all eligible patients infected with TB bacteria resistant to rifampicin – not only patients infected with bacteria resistant to two or more first-line TB drugs.
Trials have shown that the new regimen reduces treatment time and presents an alternative to a drug causing permanent hearing loss – one of the side effects of the only choice before bedaquiline’s development and release.