Cepheid will be able to reduce the price of its Xpert MTB/RIF tuberculosis diagnostic test to high-burden developing countries (HBDCs) from $17 per cartridge to $10, and roll the test out to additional qualifying regions, thanks to a $30 million injection of funding from global health initiative UNITAID, and $10 million from the Stop TB Partnership’s TB REACH initiative. Supported by the Canadian Government, the TB REACH Initiative says it has to date been the largest supporter of Xpert roll out across multiple countries.
Endorsed by WHO in late 2010, the Xpert MTB/RIF diagnostic can identify TB and multidrug-resistant TB in patient sputum samples in just 90 minutes, and has already been adopted or is being trialed in TB programs in 61 of 145 eligible countries.
Cepheid says that while discussions with UNITAID, USAID, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are ongoing and a final agreement hasn’t yet been ratified, the firm believes the organizations all have the same goal of enabling HBDC countries to purchase the test for use in TB diagnostic programs for about $10 per cartridge.
“We are delighted that UNITAID has approved this project on Xpert, which will make this innovative diagnostic test available to some of the most vulnerable people in the world,” comments Lucica Ditiu, M.D., executive secretary of the Stop TB Partnership. “This will accelerate our efforts to reach the three million people who fail to access accurate TB diagnosis and high-quality treatment every year. In particular, the test will equip us to find TB among children and people living with HIV, in whom the disease is not easily diagnosed through other available methods. Also, because Xpert detects resistance to rifampicin, which is a strong indicator for multidrug resistance, this means we will find more MDR-TB.”
UNITAID is a global health initiative established in 2006 by the governments of Brazil, Norway, Chile, France, and the U.K. to increase access to HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria therapeutic and preventive medicines and diagnostics by low- and middle-income countries.
The global Stop TB Partnership includes over 1,000 partner international and technical organizations, government programs, research and funding agencies and foundations. The organization operates through a secretariat hosted by WHO and seven working groups dedicated to accelerating access to TB diagnosis and treatment; research and development for new TB diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines; and tackling drug resistant- and HIV-associated TB.