HIV/AIDS Drug Discounts Abroad Prompt Discussion on Access to Medicines in United States
Although pharmaceutical companies have made numerous efforts in recent months to reduce the prices of antiretroviral drugs in developing nations, HIV/AIDS treatment in the United States remains a "patchwork effort," with many HIV-positive Americans "endur[ing] emotional and financial trauma" in their efforts to obtain drugs, the AP/Baltimore Sun reports. Although the government and charitable groups have created programs providing AIDS drugs to low-income individuals, the level of care "ranges from world class down to perfunctory," the AP/Sun reports (AP/Baltimore Sun, 4/22). For example, more than 400 people in Alabama are on a waiting list to qualify for medication subsidized by the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which serves people who are ineligible for Medicaid or Medicare but who are also "not adequately covered" by private insurance. Residents in Alabama, a state that has been "stingy" with AIDS funding, may wait several years to receive drugs, and many "scramble for alternatives in the interim," the AP/Detroit News reports (Crary, AP/Detroit News, 4/21). The situation in Alabama is not unique: a "majority" of the 800,000 to 900,000 HIV-positive people in the United States are not receiving regular care, according to the AP/Raleigh News & Observer. Some HIV-positive Americans are questioning whether the discounts given to developing nations could mean less help for U.S. residents. Jenny Bragdon, an HIV-positive Alabama woman, said, "If we spend all this money on other countries, who, down the road, will help us?" (AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 4/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.