On 21 October 2019, an open letter endorsed by 127 organizations and individuals was sent to Cepheid requesting that the company lower the price of Xpert TB cartridges to US$5, inclusive of service and maintenance, so that countries can afford to scale up the use of Xpert as the initial test for TB, as the WHO recommends. On 4 November, Cepheid responded saying that they “share” the desire for more affordable TB tests, but that they are “not able to predict the amount of further reductions or when they may be available.”
On 6 January 2020, an open letter endorsed by 156 organizations and individuals was sent replying to Cepheid, acknowledging the company’s response, and noting that it failed to meet the expectations of the signatories. The latest open letter (attached) reiterated the request that Cepheid provide a detailed plan for how it will lower the price of Xpert tests for TB to US$5, inclusive of service and maintenance. The letter also requested that Cepheid lower the price of Xpert tests for HIV, hepatitis B and C, human papillomavirus (HPV), and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), inclusive of service and maintenance.
According to an independent cost of goods (COGS) analysis commissioned by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the estimated cost per cartridge to produce Xpert TB tests at volumes of 10 million is estimated to be as low as $3. The COGS analysis also found that there is no significant cost distinction to warrant the higher price of Xpert tests for HIV, hepatitis B and C, HPV, and other STIs: the basic materials to construct the bacterial and viral cartridges are the same.
Given the current high volumes of sales and resulting manufacturing efficiencies and cost savings, we know Cepheid can do better than $9.98 per cartridge for TB tests. In 2011, Cepheid stated that “[t]he single most influential factor impacting the price of the test going forward is test volume.” Higher annual test volumes have arrived; it’s time that the global public share the benefits of Cepheid’s lower production costs.
All of the correspondence of this campaign has been posted on TB Online here: http://tbonline.info/posts/2020/1/8/time-lower-price-xpert-cartridges-us-5/
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TB Project Officer
Treatment Action Group
Open Letter to Cepheid - Time to Lower the Price of Xpert Cartridges to US$5 - 6 Jan 2020.pdf (92.7 KB)