Tuberculosis (TB) is preventable and curable, yet it remains one of the top causes of death worldwide, claiming more than a million lives each year. Addressing this public health challenge is complex due to increasing resistance to the most frequently used first-line TB medicines (see section: Antimicrobial Resistance) and, in the last two years, disruption in health services and diversion of healthcare resources caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson & Johnson has been a committed partner in the fight against TB—from the lab to the last mile of healthcare—for more than two decades. Our efforts are part of a comprehensive 10-year TB initiative, launched by Johnson & Johnson in 2018 and focused on treatment access, patient finding and R&D. In addition, in 2019, we committed $500 million over four years to spur the development and delivery of TB and HIV innovations, and in 2020, we announced our commitment to Pediatric TB as part of the Rome Action Plan.
Health for Humanity 2025 Goals | Global Health Equity
*An average of 10 people infected per one non-treated drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) patient, based on the WHO Tuberculosis fact sheet and cure rate of 87.8% for patients treated with bedaquiline containing regimens, based on The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Volume 392, September 2018, pp. 821 – 34.
Global TB Prevalence39
In 2021, our achievements toward enabling a world without TB included:
Essential medicine for pediatric MDR-TB: In 2021, the WHO WHO World Health Organization added the 20mg pediatric formulation of SIRTURO (bedaquiline) as part of combination therapy to the EML EML WHO Model List of Essential Medicines and the Model List of Essential Medicines for Children (EMLc).40 This new milestone builds on FDA FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration and EMA EMA European Medicines Agency approvals of bedaquiline 20mg tablet, as part of combination therapy for the treatment of MDR-TB in children aged 5 years and older and weighing at least 15kg. Research to inform the dosing of bedaquiline in MDR-TB children below the age of 5 is ongoing. The WHO EML and the EMLc include the medications considered to be efficacious, safe and cost-effective and help guide and prioritize the selection of medicines for national needs in more than 150 countries. Johnson & Johnson remains committed to ensuring this essential medicine is available, accessible and affordable.
Working to help end TB: In recognition of World TB Day in 2021, we announced a series of new commitments in support of global efforts to find and deliver care to the millions of adults and children living with TB who have not yet been diagnosed. Identifying undiagnosed people living with TB, especially those living with DR-TB
, remains one of the most significant obstacles in achieving SDG target 3.3 that aims to put an end to epidemics, including TB, by 2030. Four out of 10 people with TB go undiagnosed and untreated, a situation exacerbated by health disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.41 Collaborating with national governments, nonprofit organizations and the private sector is an important part of making care accessible to thousands of people and protecting the vulnerable communities in which many of them live. Among others, these initiatives included:
- Project inSight, a collaboration with the Global Fund in Indonesia and the Philippines that is furthering understanding of the difficulties of identifying DR-TB patients. We expect to devise new strategies to amplify efforts to identify, engage and support people living with DR-TB, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Advancing the Ending Workplace TB initiative, a multisectoral collaboration that we co-launched in 2020, which leverages the untapped potential of businesses in countries disproportionately impacted by TB to roll out awareness, detection and treatment programs in their workplaces to reach millions of workers, their families and communities. Business-led efforts to fight TB are an important complement to national TB programs. Several Johnson & Johnson suppliers joined the initiative in 2021.
- Executing a historic Memorandum of Understanding with the National TB Elimination Program (NTBEP) in India for the TB Changemakers program in which Johnson & Johnson and the NTBEP are committed to engaging youth to raise awareness and improve healthy behaviors in themselves and those around them. This program is targeted to reach at least 20 million youth in eight Indian cities in an innovative digital initiative as part of India’s National Program.
- In South Africa, we are working with Aquity Innovations to improve diagnosis and treatment for children and adolescents living with DR-TB. This initiative includes capacity-building efforts to support training and mentorship programs, social mapping to improve contact tracing and elevating local TB champions and advocates. Notably, with Johnson & Johnson’s support, Aquity Innovations has helped reopen a pediatric TB ward that was initially closed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Building on these efforts, in 2022, we announced a series of youth initiatives aimed at helping to empower a generation of youth to end TB and supporting efforts to find the “missing millions” of undiagnosed TB cases. Johnson & Johnson, together with the Central TB Division under the Ministry of Health of India, the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, Aquity Innovations and others, will support and engage young people to drive health-seeking behavior, build community awareness and reduce stigma to enhance early diagnosis of TB.
Collaborating to accelerate research: In early 2021, we launched the J&J Centers for Global Health Discovery, a new, global network of unique research collaborations that will leverage the strengths of Johnson & Johnson and leading academic institutions to accelerate discovery research to address the world’s most pressing global health challenges. The first J&J Satellite Center for Global Health Discovery was launched at the LSHTM, and additional J&J Centers will launch worldwide in 2022 and 2023.
The J&J Centers will advance the critical, early-stage discovery and exploratory science needed to develop potentially lifesaving innovations to address diseases that disproportionately impact the world’s most vulnerable people. Each Satellite Center will focus on entrenched and emerging threats that have a high unmet need, including TB, flavivirus and AMR AMR Antimicrobial resistance .
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has powerfully demonstrated the importance of investing in basic science and discovery. We have long worked with Johnson & Johnson to tackle significant global health challenges, like tuberculosis and Ebola, and are eager to build on this work in pursuit of a healthier, safer and more equitable world.
Additionally in 2021, together with a global consortium of 30 partners from 13 countries, we launched UNITE4TB to develop new TB and DR-TB treatments. This multiyear, collaborative initiative aims to accelerate improved clinical evaluation of combinations of existing and novel drugs, with the goal of developing highly active TB treatment regimens for drug-resistant and drug-sensitive TB. UNITE4TB is a project of the IMI AMR Accelerator, a public-private collaboration that aims to progress the development of new medicines to treat or prevent resistant bacterial infections.