Otsuka's delamanid access push may do India no good

Grania Brigden  

An announcement this week by Japan's Otsuka Pharmaceutical that it would join an initiative to make the TB drug delamanid available to low and middle income countries may leave India--the country worst hit by drug-resistant TB--high and dry. That's because the Japanese company has not applied for regulatory approval there and its $1,700 per treatment cost is too high in a region where many patients live on less than $2 per day. The Times of India reports that despite Otsuka receiving a patent for the drug three years ago, it did not apply to conduct Phase III trials in the country. NGOs like Doctors Without Borders are saying treatment costs--with or without delamanid--are still too high for countries like India and they say a target price of $500 per treatment is more in line with what governments hit hard by the disease can afford. Delamanid needs to be combined with several other drugs to effectively treat drug-resistant TB. "Countries should start scaling up treatment for more people with drug-resistant TB using the most effective drugs available, but delamanid is neither affordable nor available in most countries today," said Grania Brigden, TB Advisor for the Doctors With Borders "Access Campaign," according to the Times of India report. The newspaper also reported that up to two-thirds of the 500,000 people who contract the disease each year could benefit from delamanid, but in the two years since it was approved only 180 people have been treated with it. The problem for India is compounded by the fact that its national TB program cannot buy the drug from Otsuka and generic makers cannot readily make the drug because of the patent granted to the Japanese drugmaker. Report