Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Generics deal cuts cost of AIDS drugs

Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Louise Heavens, reuters.com, LONDON | Tue May 17, 2011:

(Reuters) - A global health development partnership said on Tuesday it had secured price reductions on key AIDS drugs for HIV-positive patients in poorer countries.

The Boston-based Clinton Health Access Initiative, Geneva's UNITAID, and the British government's department for international development (DFID) said the deal was the latest in a series of price reductions on new-generation AIDS drugs which would otherwise be too pricey for developing countries to afford.

"With more than nine million people worldwide in need of HIV/AIDS treatment, we must see rapid action to increase people's access to treatment," said President Bill Clinton, whose foundation helped secure the price cuts through negotiations with generic drugmakers and suppliers

"These new price reductions ... will provide millions of people with increased access to better, cheaper and more convenient first and second-line drug regimens."

The price of a first line regimen based on the drug tenofovir would now be less than $159 per patient per year, the partnership said -- a reduction of 60 percent from the average price paid in 2008.

And a World Health Organization-recommended second-line regimen -- needed when patients develop resistance to initial treatment -- is now available at less than $410 per year, down sharply from 2008 when poorer countries paid between $800 and $1,200 per patient a year for second-line treatment.

With many countries shifting increasingly toward using these regimens, the price cuts secured since 2008 are expected to result in over $600 million in cost savings over the next three years, the partnership said in a statement.

There is no cure for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS, but combinations of drugs can keep the virus from replicating and keep AIDS at bay.

Some 33.3 million people globally are infected with HIV, and most them live in Africa and other developing countries.

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