MSF flags supply concerns on critical TB test


Health groups working with people who have tuberculosis have expressed concern over possible delays involving the supply of the critical GeneXpert TB test.

Referring to a communication by the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility (GDF) on supply delays due to production constraints by Cepheid. Stijn Deborggraeve, Diagnostics Advisor, MSF Access Campaign said, delays in supply of TB tests would be devastating to national TB programs, especially in countries where Covid has alarmingly reversed years of progress made in the fight against TB. “Now more than ever, we need to see a doubling down on urgent actions to help countries to scale up TB testing services. A shortage of TB tests at this critical juncture will be disastrous.” said the representative with Médecins Sans Frontières.

The MSF statement comes against the backdrop of supply concerns flagged by the Partnership. The delays are due to Covid-19 linked supply-chain challenges and an increasing demand for these tests, the Partnership indicated. And countries placing large orders could face delays of upto six months and the backlog could run into next year, upto March, it added.

Business Line reached out to Cepheid and the Stop TB Partnership on the reported short supply, responses are awaited.

The supply crunch comes even as the world looks to end TB by 2030. The Partnership is a United Nations hosted organisation and GDF helps with global procurement of quality-assured TB diagnostics and treatments for national TB programs. India, also a high-disease burden country, targets ending TB by 2025.

Several low- and middle-income countries still rely exclusively on the GeneXpert TB tests supplied by Cepheid, say pro-health groups, even as they try to put their TB programs back on track to reach pre-pandemic levels.

Besides supply challenges, high price of GeneXpert tests have also been a barrier to scaling up TB testing services in many countries, said MSF. “Despite available analysis that it costs Cepheid less than $5 to manufacture one GeneXpert test, Cepheid has been charging high TB burden countries double that price per TB test for more than ten years,” a note from the humanitarian group alleged.

Published on

September 15, 2022

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