J&J Patent Move Must be First of Many

In Global Advocacy, Global Featured, News by Brian Shepherd

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) acknowledged today pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) announcement that it will not enforce its patent for the multi-drug resistant tuberculosis treatment SIRTURO (bedaquiline) for 134 low- and middle-income countries—a significant step in ending the global TB crisis for a preventable, treatable, and curable disease.

“This is a win for public health and TB patients, but it took far too long to become a reality considering the years of urgent advocacy from civil society. Pharmaceutical giants’ greed and patent hoarding prevents access to lifesaving drugs, vaccines, and other medical commodities, all in pursuit of profiting from the sick and dying,” said Loretta Wong, Deputy Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy for AHF. “The decision from Johnson & Johnson is a positive step, but global public health is far too pressing for every decision to take such time and advocacy. Pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility outside shareholders’ profits and must do right by the world or continue facing pressure and negative press from the public. Civil society will remain vigilant in holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for evergreening patents and demanding that they put people before profits.”

An AHF delegation attended the U.N. High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis last month to join the TB community in advocating for world leaders to commit to ensuring a robust global TB response. The resulting official declaration includes several commitments AHF advocated for, including committing $5 billion annually to the TB response, universal access to TB treatment and services, incorporating civil society in TB strategies, and integrating TB services with primary and HIV healthcare settings.

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