J&J Exec: Tuberculosis is a Global Emergency. It's Time to Start Treating it That Way

By Paul Stoffels
Jan 11, 2019 9:30 AM ET
Summary: 
  • Ebola, and HIV before it, shows what can be accomplished once a disease is catapulted to the top of the global agenda.
     
  • Dr. Paul Stoffels, Johnson & Johnson's chief scientific officer, says tuberculosis is a far deadlier disease, but has not received this sort of attention and focus from the global community.
     
  • An outdated and inadequate toolbox is largely to blame for the unacceptably high toll of TB.
Article

Four years ago, a disease that rarely made headlines — Ebola — raged in West Africa. There was no vaccine, treatment or cure. Though the initial response was slow, the international community ultimately mobilized resources, developed scientific innovations and promised to make sure a tragedy on the same scale would never happen again.

Today, Ebola is back, but the story is changing. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, where I started my career as a physician, is facing the second of two threatening Ebola outbreaks this year, but this time we're better prepared to respond thanks to new tools, including new vaccines. My company, Johnson & Johnson, is among those that accelerated the development of a vaccine and stands ready to deploy it when needed.

Ebola, and HIV before it, shows what can be accomplished once a disease is catapulted to the top of the global agenda. So it is puzzling to me why a far deadlier disease — tuberculosis — has never received this sort of attention and focus from the global community.

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