The approval last year of Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) treatment for tuberculosis (bedaquiline) — at the time the first TB drug approval in 40 years — “remains an exception to the generally gloomy outlook” for investment in TB R&D, writes Andrew Ward in this week’s Financial Times.
AstraZeneca’s decision in January to close a laboratory in India that was conducting early-stage research into TB is more typical of Big Pharma’s current approach to TB, says Ward.
TB is “particularly unattractive as a commercial proposition” because of its heavy concentration in poorer countries.
J&J is not expected to profit from bedaquiline, but the company has been “rewarded” by U.S. regulators for developing the TB treatment with a scheme enabling it to put a potentially more lucrative new drug through an accelerated review process.
Although, Ward points out, Japan’s Otsuka has also since won provisional approval in Europe for its delamanid treatment for MDR-TB, few in Big Pharma are following the example of these companies.