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We need to put people over TB test profits

| September 19, 2023 1:00 AM

Even though it has been curable for decades, 1.6 million people will die this year of tuberculosis. These deaths are preventable and unacceptable. Groups such as Médecins Sans Frontières, the Stop TB Partnership, and Partners in Health have been fighting tirelessly to end TB, but access to diagnosis remains a major challenge in achieving that.

Roughly 4.2 million people per year, or 40% of all TB cases, go undiagnosed, leading to needless deaths. The WHO-recommended TB test is the GeneXpert device, produced by Cepheid, a subsidiary of Danaher. However, Danaher reaps unreasonably high profits on the tests, charging $10-15 per test, ignoring the fact that this renders them inaccessible to those who need them most. (As well as ignoring that the tests were developed using $252 million of taxpayer funds.) Danaher has the ability to save millions of lives while still making at least a 20% profit on the tests by dropping the price of the GeneXpert TB tests to $5.

Although this message may seem irrelevant to the readers of Sandpoint, we all know and understand the importance of easy access to healthcare. Personally, my life has been saved several times by tests similar to those mentioned above. Access to these tests is not just an abstract concept; it affects everyone.

I ask your readers to join the fight to end TB by emailing Danaher at sustainability@danaher.com, calling them at 1-202-828-0850, and posting on social media with #PeopleOverProfits and #TimeFor5.

KATHERINE MELLANDER

Sandpoint