Eli Lilly to spend $30 million fighting TB

Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. intends to spend $30 million over the next five years to ensure that patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis have access to proper treatments.

The company has spent $135 million since 2003 to train generic drugmakers to produce medicine to treat drug-resistant TB, according to

Lilly hopes to improve treatment availability for patients in China, Russia, India and South Africa, and to train more healthcare workers from 2012 to 2016. The Indianapolis-based company’s foundation said that its commitment will end at that point.

Approximately four percent of the world’s TB cases, thought to approach 9.4 million globally in 2009, are not treatable by the two most commonly used drugs, according to the World Health Organization. Those cases require more expensive medicines, which are not commonly available.

Lilly’s funding, according to Chief Executive Officer John Lechleither, will make second-line drugs more available to those in need. Lechleither recently travelled to China in order to oversee the foundation’s efforts.

“The impression that that left me with is the scarcity of resources available to health-care providers,” Lechleiter said, reports. “By that I mean simple things like posters and brochures that would make people aware of the disease, how to prevent it, how to seek treatment.”