- Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Wednesday strongly criticized the Japanese drugmaker Otsuka's decision to price its tuberculosis drug delamanid at $1700 per treatment course.
- Delamanid, or Deltyba, has proven effective against drug resistant strains of TB, and is one of two drugs to be introduced over the last 50 years. Deltya needs to be taken along with several other drug regimens, which cost between $1,000 and $4,500, according to MSF.
- The humanitarian organization called for Otsuka to bring the price down to $500 per treatment and pushed for the drug to be registered in countries with a high burden of drug-resistant TB. To date, Otsuka has registered the drug in Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.
Tuberculosis kills roughly 1.5 million people per year, according to the World Health Organization. Almost 10% of those deaths are among children in low and middle-income countries. Worldwide, roughly 9.6 million people are infected with TB. The virulence of TB is especially challenging for individuals with AIDS, making TB responsible for one-third of all AIDS-related deaths.
All of this makes Otsuka's drug highly important, especially as it has been effective against drug-resistant TB.
"The price for delamanid needs to come down to an affordable level, and Otsuka should also register delamanid quickly in all countries where the drug has been tested in clinical trials...If people can’t access delamanid, this promising new drug will be effectively worthless," said Dr. Grania Brigden, an advisor on TB for MSF.
Access remains a challenge. So far, Otsuka has only registered Deltyba in four countries, including Germany, Japan, South Korea and the U.K. While the company plans to register Deltyba in China, Indonesia, Turkey and the Philippines, it has not been available yet to countries with a higher need for effective treatments, according to reporting from Stat.
The day after MSF released its statement slamming Otsuka's pricing, the drugmaker unveiled a public-private partnership with the Stop TB Partnership in order to boost access of Deltyba in low and middle-income countries through the Partnership's Global Drug Facility.
"This agreement with the Stop TB Partnership is only the first step in assuring wider, equitable access to delamanid," said Masuhiro Yoshitake, Otsuka's operating officer.