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1607HIV drug pricing in Africa

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  • Bell, Elizabeth
    Aug 17, 2000
    • 0 Attachment
      "Turning Point"
      Village Voice (www.villagevoice.com) (07/25/00) Vol. 45, No. 29,
      P. 59; Schoofs, Mark
      Participants at the 13th International AIDS Conference, held
      recently in Durban, South Africa, discussed the fact that over 90
      percent of people with HIV cannot afford drugs that will save
      their lives. At the conference, Nelson Mandela called for an end
      to the debate over the HIV-AIDS link and for political will to
      end the epidemic. This year's AIDS conference also led to
      increased aid pledges from the World Bank, Merck, and others;
      however, more needs to be done, as UNAIDS estimates that Africa
      needs $3 billion a year for prevention programs and antibiotics
      alone. Brazil, which makes generic versions of several AIDS
      drugs, has set an example by providing antiretrovirals to all
      HIV-infected residents who need them. Since the program started
      four years ago, the nation has reduced its HIV death rate by
      about 50 percent and hospital admissions for AIDS patients have
      dropped by 80 percent. While South Africa has many more HIV
      patients than the South American nation, and Brazil was able to
      make the generic drugs legally because it had not yet signed a
      World Trade Organization agreement that limits making generic
      forms of patented products, the two countries may take advantage
      of a loophole that permits generic production in the case of a
      national emergency. According to Joseph Perriens of the Joint
      United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, industrialized nations'
      acceptance of differential pricing could cut the cost of AIDS
      drug cocktails from a discounted price $7,000 annually to $2,000,
      hopefully allowing the drugs reach beyond capital cities to more
      rural areas.