Detail of the GeneXpert machine being used to test a sample of suspected Tuberculosis in the lab at Bangassou Hospital.

Time for $5

The 'Time for $5' campaign is a global coalition calling on diagnostics corporation Cepheid to drop the price of its GeneXpert tests to US$5 a test so that many more people can get access to fast and accurate disease diagnosis.

The 'Time for $5' coalition is coordinated by MSF Access Campaign and Treatment Action Group (TAG), together with more than 150 civil society organizations working to improve access to GeneXpert instruments and tests.

Since 2019, we have been calling on the manufacturer, Cepheid, to lower the price of Xpert tests to US$5* per test across diseases.

 * The $5 ask is based on publicly available evidence of Cepheid’s cost of production of Xpert tests. 


Cepheid COVID-19 test price reduction protestPhotograph by Sophia Apostolia

But Cepheid refuses to reduce the price and still prioritizes making profit over saving lives. 

Photograph by Borja Ruiz Rodriguez


Cepheid COVID-19 test price reduction protestPhotograph by Sophia Apostolia

But Cepheid refuses to reduce the price and still prioritizes making profit over saving lives. 

What is the Time for $5 campaign?  

Out of reach: a revolutionary diagnostic test to save lives. 

The GeneXpert diagnostic testing technology by the US-based corporation Cepheid has revolutionised rapid, accurate diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB) since entering the market in 2010. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the Xpert MTB/RIF test as an initial test for all people with signs and symptoms of TB.  

Yet, due to the high cost of the GeneXpert instrument and its tests, most high TB-burden countries are not able to scale up testing for all people who need diagnosis. Instead, TB care providers continue to rely on cheaper, less accurate sputum smear microscopy. 

In addition to TB, several other Xpert tests have been developed to tackle other challenging diseases, which have been added to Cepheid’s concessional pricing program for high burden developing countries (HBDCs). These diseases include HIV, hepatitis B and C, COVID, human papillomavirus (HPV), Ebola and various sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomonas). 

Time for $5Photograph from TB Online website


It costs Cepheid less than $5 to make a test...

MSF analysis has shown that it costs Cepheid less than US$5 to manufacture one GeneXpert test while Cepheid has been charging MSF and high burden developing countries double that price per TB test for more than 10 years now, at least three times for HIV, hepatitis, COVID and sexually transmitted disease tests, and four times for the Ebola and XDR-TB tests. 

To scale up testing and close the gap in diagnosis for people with TB, HIV, hepatitis, COVID, cervical cancer, Ebola and sexually transmitted diseases, we are calling on Cepheid to reduce the price of GeneXpert tests for those diseases to $5, inclusive of service and maintenance of the GeneXpert devices, so that more lives can be saved.

Key publications & resources

Technical Brief- Time for $5: GeneXpert diagnostic tests

December 2019
This document provides evidence to support a reduction of pricing across all Cepheid’s HBDC concessionally priced assays to reach the people in need of testing for TB and other high-burden infectious diseases.

Read more

Annexes to the Technical Brief

Detailed methodology and data from the cost analyses conducted for MSF by Cambridge Consultants and referenced in the 'Time for $5' technical brief can be downloaded. 

2018 COGS analysis of Xpert MTB/RIF Ultra cartridges

2015 COGS analysis of Xpert HIV-1 Viral Load cartridges

2012 COGS analysis of Xpert MTB/RIF cartridges

Principles for Access to Multi-disease Molecular Diagnostics

August 2022
Following a roundtable discussion with funders, governments and other procurers, a set of principles has been developed to enable better outcomes to negotiations with diagnostic manufacturers.

Read more

Other Publications

Realizing Returns on U.S. Government Investments in GeneXpert Diagnostic Technologies

Advancing Access through Market Interventions: Lessons Learned from the GeneXpert Tuberculosis Test Buy-Down


June 2, 2022
Roundtable on Access to Multi-disease Molecular Diagnostics

April 3, 2022
Webinar on the price of Xpert tests for COVID-19, TB, HIV, HCV and other diseases

November 1, 2019
Protestors demand Cepheid halve the price of GeneXpert TB tests to US$5

Open letters to Cepheid

Public investments in the GeneXpert diagnostic technology

Impact on people