AIDS Drugs and Africa
- "South Africa May Cite Crisis to Lower Cost of AIDS Drugs"
New York Times (www.nytimes.com) (03/12/01) P. A3; Swarns,
South African health officials indicate that the government may
circumvent the pharmaceutical industry's legal challenge of its
proposal to import and manufacture generic AIDS drugs by
declaring a national emergency. The overwhelming support from
drug industry protesters and Merck's move to offer further
reduced AIDS treatment prices has led the government to abandon
its prior stance of not violating patents and considering taking
advantage of a World Trade Organization clause. The government
would then be in a position to accept Cipla's offer of
inexpensive generic AIDS drugs. The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
Association of South Africa's Mirryena Deeb asserts that her
group would fight such a move because the government has never
accepted the offer of free or discounted drugs from
"Yale Pressed to Help Cut Drug Costs in Africa"
New York Times (www.nytimes.com) (03/12/01) P. A3; McNeil Jr.,
Yale University has become entangled in the battle to get
inexpensive AIDS drugs to Africa. The medical charity Doctors
Without Borders has asked the school to allow South Africa to
import a generic version of d4T, a Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS)
drug on which Yale holds the patent. While the
university--noting a patent deal with BMS--rejected the charity's
request, Yale issued a statement Friday noting it had eliminated
any barriers to the drug company supplying the drug in South
Africa. In an effort to help the drug--which is sold by BMS
under the brand name Zerit--reach South Africa, a group of law
students at Yale has been planning to pressure the school and has
alleged that there are possible conflicts of interest between BMS
and the university.
"Merck & Co."
Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) (03/11/01) P. A3;
Blustein, Paul; Gellman, Barton
Merck has announced price cuts of AIDS medicines for developing
countries that will eliminate any profit on drug sales there.
However, even with this round of drastic cuts, the drugs will be
much more expensive than most patients can afford in poor
countries. The drugs may be within the means of aid agencies and
the philanthropic organizations of more affluent countries,
potentially opening the door to widespread treatment for HIV
patients in Africa and other developing areas. Crixivan will be
available for $600 per year, while Stocrin will cost $500 per
year--about 10 percent of the price paid in the United States and
other rich countries--as long as the nations promised not to
re-export the medicines.
"Behind Cipla's Offer of Cheap AIDS Drugs: Potent Mix of Motives"
Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com) (03/12/01) P. A1; Pearl,
Daniel; Freedman, Alix
In addition to accomplishing humanitarian objectives by offering
the sale of low-priced generic copies of AIDS drugs, Cipla owner
Yusuf K. Hamied may have been motivated by a desire to establish
his company's name outside India and to convince the Indian
government to preserve the rights of generic producers. The
offer has made Cipla a player in United Nations initiatives to
lower AIDS drug prices and has helped spearhead an effort by
major pharmaceutical companies to further reduce prices. Cipla's
pressuring of the Indian government to place import duties on
lamivudine and to loosen its price control policies indicates
that the company does not always act in the interest of reducing
drug prices. The company's proposal to sell AIDS drug through
Doctors Without Borders may be a shrewd marketing move given that
the humanitarian group does not have the expertise to globally
distribute pharmaceuticals and that local doctors may lack the
training to dispense and properly dose the medications.
"Africa: Ivory Coast Makes Deal for Cheaper HIV Drugs"
Atlanta Journal and Constitution (www.accessatlanta.com)
(03/11/01) P. 4B
Three pharmaceutical companies have agreed to significantly
reduce the prices of their AIDS drugs in Ivory Coast. Under the
deal, the drug firms-- Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, and
GlaxoSmithKline--will lower the average monthly cost of treating
an HIV-infected individual from $425 to between $90 and $100.
"AIDS Permeates Uganda Politics Too"
New York Times (www.nytimes.com) (03/12/01) P. A3; Fisher, Ian
AIDS has become an issue in Uganda's elections, as current
President Yoweri Museveni has publicly stated that Dr. Kizza
Besigye, his political rival, is HIV-positive. While Besigye has
not said what his HIV status is, he declared Saturday, "I have
absolutely no doubt that there is no medical condition that I
suffer from which can preclude me from doing the duties of
president." In a country where, in some areas, 25 percent of
adults are infected with HIV, Museveni's ploy has actually
benefited Besigye, since many patients are voters and polls show
that Besigye has about 40 percent of the vote. Having reduced
overall infection rates from 30 percent to about 10 percent, Uganda
is considered a success story in the battle against AIDS.
Uganda's presidential elections will be held today.