On 6th August 2012, a public-private partnership consisting of UNITAID, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation finalised an agreement that will dramatically reduce the cost of running a rapid diagnostic test for tuberculosis, with the use of the GeneXpert machine. Launched in December 2010, this technology is able to detect drug resistant strains of tuberculosis in under 2 hours and has the potential to revolutionize the testing of tuberculosis by speeding up the time in which people are able to access treatment after seeking medical attention.
From yesterday the cost of the cartridges used to conduct the test has reduced from approximately US$17 to just under US$10 per cartridge, a 40% reduction. This cost reduction will make possible a huge expansion in the use of the GeneXpert machine, making it more affordable for high TB burden countries across Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, to conduct many more TB tests at an increasingly affordable cost. RESULTS warmly welcomes this significant advance in the fight against TB.
However at a concessional price of almost US$17,000 for the entire GeneXpert system including hardware and software to run the tests and analyse the data, significant price reductions on the overall purchase of the machine system must be negotiated as well as the cartridges, to ensure as many countries as possible are able to afford this technology.
The press release can be seen here.