Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) is reported to be working on a local diagnostic kit for TB. According to a recent report in the Times of India, the product development has been progressing positively and had entered the final stages of validation.
This diagnostic kit will be local made and as such will also make the TB diagnosis more affordable. As implied by the Director General of ICMR, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, at a symposium on intellectual property in India organised by the Swiss Embassy, this product is expected to bring down the cost of diagnosing TB significantly.
Elaborating further on the product development, Dr Swaminathan has confirmed that this is a joint initiative of the Department of Bio-Technology (DBT), ICMR and the health ministry. The health ministry had earlier expressed their interest in developing an affordable means to diagnose TB, while ensuring the quality of the procedure.
“The health ministry is looking for diagnostics of high quality that is also affordable,” said Dr Swaminathan.
Referring to the recent controversy in the US where a company that had a monopoly over a crucial drug hiked its price by 5,500%, Dr Swaminathan said India had to be mindful that companies had that kind of power. The symposium was dominated by those representing Big Pharma interests who emphasised the high costs of drug discovery based on a study by a research centre heavily funded by the pharma industry with pharma-provided data not open to public, as exactly reported by the Times of India.