International Partnership To Decrease Cost of ACTs in 11 Countries Over Two Years Launches
A new international partnership that launched on Friday in Norway is expected to drive down the cost of artemisinin-based combination therapies at local pharmacies in 10 African countries and Cambodia over the next two years, AFP/Google.com reports (AFP/Google.com, 4/18).
The new partnership, known as the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm), will have an initial budget of $225 million and is a joint effort by the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the Roll Back Malaria Partnership; Norway; Britain; the Netherlands; and UNITAID (McNeil, New York Times, 4/18). Most of the money will come form UNITAID and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development is contributing 40 million pounds, about $58 million (Jack, Financial Times, 4/17). Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund, said, "There is no reason any child should die of malaria any more" (Acher, Reuters, 4/17)
AMFm aims to decrease the cost of ACTs in an effort to get rid of older, ineffective malaria drugs (AFP/Google.com, 4/18). Although ACTs are available at no cost in many public health clinics, most people do not have immediate access to public health facilities. As a result, they buy their drugs at local markets and private pharmacies (UNITAID release, 4/17). But the cost of ACTs is up to 40 times more than other over the counter malaria drugs. Current costs range between six dollars and $10 (AFP/Google.com). AMFM is designed to reduce the cost to between 20 cents and 50 cents, in line with older drugs such as chloroquine. About 5% of private purchases in many countries are for ACTs, the Financial Times reports (Financial Times, 4/17).
AMFM's goal is to get drug companies to lower the private sector price of ACTs and then to use donor funds to pay enough so that the drugs only cost a nickel or so at the wholesale price.
The United States, which is the world's biggest donor the war on malaria, is not yet supporting partnership. Bernard Nahlen, deputy coordinator of the President's Malaria Initiative, said that he wants to see more studies proving that subsidies would work before hundreds of millions of dollars are invested. "I sometimes joke that this is the biggest faith-based initiative in the world of malaria," he said, adding, "I'm perfectly willing to be convinced, but sometimes the advocacy gets out ahead of the evidence" (New York Times, 4/18). Other critics have said that the limited money available to tackle malaria could be better spent on other initiatives (Financial Times, 4/17).
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