Danaher, it's Time to put People over Profits

Tuberculosis is curable, yet 1.3 million people die of tuberculosis every year while Danaher grossly overcharges for diagnostic tests for the people who can least afford it.

hourglass illustration with red sand and the letters T B in the top section

Tuberculosis is the World's Deadliest Infectious Disease.

A total of 1.3 million people died from tuberculosis (TB) in 2022, making it the second deadliest infectious disease worldwide—once again becoming the most deadly infectious disease in 2023...even though it's curable.

While an estimated 44 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2010 and 2022, these resources are prohibitively expensive to the point that many who need them can’t afford it.

Roughly 2 in 5 patients with multidrug-resistant TB do not have access to proper testing to find out if their TB is a multidrug-resistant strain. As a result, over half of them end up receiving long, expensive treatments that won't even help.

Enter Danaher.

Danaher is a large U.S. corporation that owns many smaller biotech companies, including Cepheid. Cepheid designs and manufactures diagnostic tests. Their MTB/RIF GeneXpert test determines whether someone has tuberculosis and whether it is resistant to one antibiotic, and their MTB/XDR test determines if the infection is extensively drug-resistant or not, enabling effective treatment.

GeneXpert tests give fast and accurate results without the need for a fully equipped laboratory, which theoretically makes them ideal for use in countries with limited healthcare infrastructure, where results could otherwise take days or weeks to arrive.

Sounds great, right?

Not Quite...

Danaher uses what many call a “printer-ink” business model when it comes to the GeneXpert testing system. While a printer is usually sold for a reasonable price, the ink is often extremely expensive with a high profit margin. Danaher prices GeneXpert tests in a similar way.

The reusable machines used to process these tests are moderately priced, but the single-use Xpert test cartridges are extremely expensive. After years of public pressure from health organizations and activists, Danaher has agreed to reduce the price of their standard TB cartridges from $10 to $8 for low- and middle-income countries. While this is a step in the right direction, it is just the first step.

Profits Over People.

Xpert cartridges for extensively drug-resistant TB are still priced at $15, and tests for other diseases including HIV, hepatitis, Ebola, and HPV cost up to $20. This is much higher than the production costs calculated as part of independent research, and 1.5 times the median weekly wage in countries like Sierra Leone. We do not have access to detailed production information from Danaher at this time, and we look forward to the transparency that will come with their pledged third party audit, but the bottom line is that we know it’s simply not affordable for the people who need them most.

We call on Cepheid and Danaher to prioritize people’s lives over maximizing profits by extending their commitment and reducing the price of tests for all of their life-saving diagnostics in low- and middle-income countries to $5

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