AIDS Drugs Will Remain Out of Reach for Africa’s HIV/AIDS Patients Despite Lower Prices
Although several pharmaceutical companies have significantly reduced the prices of their AIDS drugs sold in African countries, the drugs "remain far beyond the monthly minimum wage in much of the region," the AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Companies that plan to offer the "low cost" drugs -- Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim and Merck & Co. -- confirmed agreements with Senegal, Ivory Coast, Uganda and Rwanda late last year and early this year, and most recently with Mali and Cameroon. But these countries estimate that, even at the reduced prices, they can only afford to provide treatment for between 1% and 2% of their HIV-positive populations. For example, only 3,000 of Rwanda's 400,000 HIV-positive patients will be able to obtain treatment under the nation's agreement with drug companies, and only 1,000 of Senegal's 180,000 HIV-positive patients will have access to AIDS drugs once the prices are reduced. Thus, pressure has been "building" on drug manufacturers to lower prices "to clear the way for their cheaper, generic competitors" (Knickmeyer, AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.