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Pharmaceutical Companies Should Improve Access To Cryptococcal Meningitis Treatment In Africa

STAT: A drug priced out of reach in Africa could save lives from a neglected killer
Patrick Adams, freelance journalist, and Cameron Nutt, fourth-year student at Harvard Medical School

“…[I]n sub-Saharan Africa [cryptococcal meningitis, or crypto] is fatal in 70 percent of patients even after they reach referral hospitals in capital cities. … By contrast, in wealthy regions such as Western Europe, crypto kills under 10 percent of patients. The difference is largely a function of access to flucytosine … There has been progress. In early March, the World Health Organization updated its guidance for the treatment of crypto, recommending flucytosine as the cornerstone of all first-line options, and approved a generic version of the drug. … Mylan[, which makes the generic version of flucytosine,] has vowed to ‘do what’s right, not what’s easy,’ while Valeant (now Bausch Health)[, which makes the brand name version,] says it is ‘dedicated to advancing global health.’ But flucytosine puts the lie to those claims. If they’re sincere, these companies can start by rolling back their prices for the drug to what it was a decade ago and registering it in countries where it remains unavailable — and desperately needed…” (8/8).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.