UNITAID’s portfolio of TB projects address the numerous market shortcomings for TB treatments and diagnostics – deficiencies that limit the availability of quality-assured affordable diagnostics and medicines and which contribute to such unacceptably high mortality rates.
The last TB medicine with a completely new active ingredient was discovered almost half a century ago. Although TB used to be a leading cause of death in Europe and North America, it has virtually disappeared from these regions today with consequently little commercial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest in new and better formulated products. Moreover, the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains (MDR-tuberculosis) poses an even greater challenge for treatment as very few patients are properly diagnosed. There are an estimated 630,000 prevalent cases of MDR-TB in the world of which only about 5% were notified to the World Health Organization in 2011.
UNITAID investments aim to stabilize the market for TB treatment and diagnostics. Generic manufacturers supply 100% of anti-TB medicines purchased with UNITAID funds.