USAID and Johnson & Johnson to Tackle Antibiotic-Resistant Tuberculosis

For Immediate Release

Thursday, December 11, 2014
USAID Press Office
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: | Twitter: @USAIDPress

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Janssen Therapeutics, Division of Janssen Products, LP (Janssen), one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson that will accelerate progress in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, specifically multi drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

The intent of the MOU is for Janssen to donate $30 million worth of the drug SIRTURO® (bedaquiline) over a 4 year period through USAID's programs for the treatment of MDR-TB. The drug donation will enable nearly 100 low- and middle-income eligible countries to access the life-saving drug for free under certain conditions.

The MoU for this collaboration was signed during a signing ceremony by Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator, and Dr. Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer and Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, on behalf of Janssen.

"USAID remains committed to addressing the growing concern around antibiotic resistant bacteria as outlined in President Obama's Executive Order and supporting introduction and appropriate use of new drugs to fight MDR-TB," said Administrator Shah. "This partnership leverages the expertise of both USAID and Johnson & Johnson in the global TB effort and we hope will serve as a catalyst to spur further innovations in addressing global public health emergencies that demand different solutions. More importantly, this collaboration will bring new hope to MDR-TB patients in need of better treatment options."   

Antibiotic resistant bacteria are a major threat to progress made in medicine over the last 100 years. The tuberculosis mycobacterium is estimated to kill more than 1.3 million people each year and is spread from person to person through the air. MDR-TB is a dangerous form of tuberculosis that is resistant to two or more of the primary antibiotics (isoniazid and rifampicin) typically used for treatment. MDR-TB is highly contagious, often times fatal, and is difficult as well as costly to treat. The World Health Organization estimates that up to half a million new cases of MDR-TB occur worldwide, with hundreds of thousands of people dying from the disease in 2013.

Bedaquiline, the first new class of antibiotics approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in nearly 50 years, is a powerful new drug in the arsenal to fight drug-resistant TB and can be used in combination with other drugs when existing treatment regimens to treat MDR-TB are not effective. Access to bedaquiline, however, is challenging in many countries due to the costs of the treatment regimen and lack of suitable in-country systems to ensure appropriate use and monitoring.

This partnership will address these issues. USAID will leverage its in-country presence and technical assistance expertise to introduce bedaquiline in many high-burden countries and support country-based MDR-TB treatment programs.