The GeneXpert machine has been installed in the laboratory at Kerema General Hospital to help speed up diagnosis of TB patients. Photograph by Aris Messinis
Photograph by Aris Messinis


From 2017, MSF has conducted a series of analyses aiming to have a better understanding of the causes of market monopoly in the field of diagnostics for infectious diseases especially concerning TB, HIV/AIDS and HCV.

In the resource-limited settings where MSF works, the lack of access to affordable, adapted and simplified diagnostic tests for infectious diseases is an ongoing struggle. Where suitable diagnostics do exist, the manufacturers have control over the supply chain to the extent that it acts as a market monopoly.

In 2017, MSF conducted a series of analyses on the causes of this diagnostics market monopoly, especially for tuberculosis (TB), HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) tests used in MSF medical programmes. A patent landscape report examines in depth three point-of-care diagnostics for these infectious diseases: Xpert MTB/RIF (Cepheid), AlereQ HIV-1/2 Detect (Abbott), and OraQuick HCV Rapid Antibody Test (OraSure). A broad literature review of patents and diagnostics was also conducted by MSF with an external consultant and researchers. Finally, summary notes for global health and civil society organisations was produced, presenting key observations and potential areas for follow-up research to improve people’s access to lifesaving diagnostic tools.

  1. Diagnostics, Market Monopoly and Intellectual Property: Notes to Global Health Agencies and Civil Society Organizations (2017)
  2. An Analysis of the Patent Landscape Related to Diagnostic Devices and Their Consumable Parts: GeneXpert, AlereQ, and OraSure (2017)
  3. Preliminary Literature Review on Patents and Diagnostics (2017)