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A world without tuberculosis (TB)

A world without tuberculosis (TB)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 10.4 million people worldwide suffer from tuberculosis (TB). About 4 million of them do not receive appropriate treatment, and in 2015, about 1.8 million people still died from the effects of the disease[1]. The number of cases is decreasing slowly, but tuberculosis is still the second biggest killer among infectious diseases after HIV/AIDS. In Belgium, more than 1,300 people suffer from the disease[2]. Janssen is concerned about these numbers and, together with others, is committed to eradicating tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis is a highly contagious and deadly infectious disease, which is transferred by means of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Infection usually occurs by breathing in the bacteria released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. TB not only affects the lungs, but also other organs such as the kidneys, bones, or brain. The infection spreads mainly via the bloodstream when the resistance of the body is low or when the number of germs is very high.

TB can be cured

Since 1944, tuberculosis can be treated and cured by means of antibiotics, but the bacteria soon became insensitive to antibiotics. Resistant forms of TB are on the rise due to incorrect treatment or irregular medication intake.

The standard treatment consists of a 'cocktail' of four antibiotics, which the patient must take for six months without interruption. With TB, the symptoms usually disappear after two months, but the patient must keep up the treatment for at least another four months in order to kill the last bacillus. This is a major challenge, especially for patients in remote areas, but stopping too soon means that the risk of developing resistant bacteria increases considerably.

MDR-TB is a serious threat

Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis or MDR-TB is one of the deadliest types of tuberculosis and one of the hardest to treat. It is caused by stems of a bacteria which have become resistant to the strongest drugs currently on the market. In 2013, the disease affected about 480,000 people worldwide, more than half of them in India, China, and the Russian Federation.

Janssen researchers have discovered and developed a new treatment for MDR-TB as part of a combined therapy for adults. This medication is now on the market in several countries and has recently been included in the WHO List of essential medicines. Janssen engages with partners to address the MDR-TB epidemic. In 2014, for example, Janssen launched Global Public Health to tackle major health challenges such as MDR-TB, especially in countries with very few healthcare resources. We are working on improved access to medicines, increased collaboration, and supportive health solutions. We believe that we can make a meaningful contribution to global public health. Our end goal is a world where no one dies from TB.


[1] WHO Global Tuberculosis Report 2014
[2] Janssen EU Disease Lens