Key moments: reducing costs and improving availability
Since 1999, MSF’s Access Campaign plus civil-society demands to put patient lives before profits have contributed to several critical wins to reduce costs and improve availability of lifesaving drugs and vaccines.
Johnson & Johnson’s oral tuberculosis treatment bedaquiline is the backbone of drug-resistant tuberculosis treatment and replaces older, more toxic treatment options. In 2019 we launched a global campaign urging the company to reduce the cost for the drug in low- and some middle-income countries to $1/day, with 120,707 people signing MSF’s petitions calling for more accessible pricing. In July 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced that a reduced price of US$1.50 per day—32 per cent lower than the previous lowest price—would be available to a list of countries determined by the corporation.
When a new breakthrough hepatitis C cure was introduced in 2013 it cost around AUD$1,500 per pill. The Access Campaign along with other civil society organisations supported legal challenges to break drug company monopolies, eventually contributing to the price of the medicine dropping to roughly $1.50 per pill in some countries. We continue to campaign for the drug to be more affordable in other countries where it remains priced out of reach for millions.
We campaigned over many years to break drug company monopolies to improve price competition and generic manufacture, therefore leading to lower prices of essential HIV drugs. The cost of HIV treatments have been ultimately reduced by more than 99 percent, with the yearly cost to treat a single person dropping from over AUD$15,000 in 2000, to less than $150 today. This was again due to drug company monopolies being broken to improve competition.
In the early 2000s, Access Campaign’s ‘ACT Now’ campaign urged countries to switch to more effective artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for malaria, which most African countries did by 2008.
The Access Campaign succeeded in getting pharmaceutical companies to significantly drop the price of the pneumonia vaccine for humanitarian organisations working in emergency situations, through its ‘A Fair Shot’ campaign.