Brasilia – The Government of Brazil announced today that 30,000 people will next year receive treatments of rifapentine, a key drug for tuberculosis prevention, following a nearly 70 percent discount negotiated by Unitaid, the Global Fund and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi. The National Committee for Health Technology Incorporation will assess the integration of the drug into the Brazil public system.
The lower price of the drug is expected to lead to TB prevention for millions of people in more than 100 countries where the disease is most prevalent.
In Brazil, 75,000 people suffered from active tuberculosis in 2018. The country’s roughly 900,000 people living with HIV are at high risk for developing active TB, as are their household contacts, estimated at three people per home.
“The price reduction of latent TB treatment is a step forward in tackling the disease, and in improving the lives of people who may be affected by the it. For the Brazilian government, it is an important advance towards reaching the international commitments to end TB,” Brazil Minister of Health Dr. Luiz Henrique Mandetta said.
A quarter of the world’s population is infected with latent TB, in which the bacteria is dormant. HIV infection makes people up to 25 times more likely to fall ill with the active disease. Preventive therapy stops latent TB from becoming active.
Rifapentine is part of an effective therapy for TB called 3HP, which requires only once-weekly treatment for 12 weeks, compared to the 6-to-9-month daily regimen. That means patients receive 12 doses in three months, versus the 180 doses in six months or 270 doses in nine months required under the older standard of care, isoniazid preventive therapy.
The Unitaid-funded IMPAACT4TB project (2017-2021) has been working in 12 high-burden countries, including Brazil, to establish 3HP as an affordable, quality-assured and less-toxic therapy for TB prevention. Led by the Aurum Institute, IMPAACT4TB is providing 6,700 patients in Brazil with the new treatment.
“Today’s announcement from Brazil is exemplary,” said Unitaid’s Executive Director Lelio Marmora. “Unitaid is eager to witness the first impact that this groundbreaking deal will have for thousands of people vulnerable to the disease.”
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