Tuberculosis: NGO Says TB Drug Market Could Reach $700M by 2010

November 14, 2001

According to a new Global Alliance for TB Drugs Development report, the anti-tuberculosis drug market could reach $700 million by 2010 because of the growing prevalence of the disease and increasingly multidrug resistant strains.

"With one person dying every 15 seconds from TB, we must develop new drugs or we will ultimately lose the battle," the group's CEO Maria Freire said. "When only 23 percent of TB patients are properly treated and resistance is on the rise, we must do better. New drugs that would shorten treatment for both active and latent forms as well as treat multidrug resistant strains are 'must-haves' to win the fight against this global epidemic."

The Economics of TB Drug Development estimates the current TB drug market at $450 million, with 67 percent in the form of private sales. That figure is expected to increase more than 50 percent by 2010 to $700 million. Just one new anti-TB drug capable of reducing the length of treatment from six to two months could take in as much as $400 million in the future.

The report also says new drugs can bring a high rate of return on investment, especially in the case of public health, because they will reduce the length of treatment and will lower related nondrug treatment costs. Although the cost of curing a single TB patient differs from country to country, in the United States it can exceed $25,000.

According to Freire, the Global TB Alliance "will capitalize on the research underway in a diverse group of public labs, biotech companies and pharmaceutical firms so that existing compounds move along the R&D [research and development] cycle quickly and deliver affordable drugs." Established a year ago, the nongovernmental organization aims to accelerate the development of new drugs and ensure universal access to improved treatment.

TB has infected 1.9 billion people across the globe, and every year it takes the lives of 2 million people. The Global TB Alliance's report was developed together with the Research Triangle Institute, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases