Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Cipla to Supply Nigeria with Discounted Generic AIDS Drugs
Nigeria and Cipla, the Indian generic drug maker that "shocked" health officials and the pharmaceutical industry earlier this year by offering AIDS drugs at "slash[ed]" prices, announced Thursday that they had made an agreement that will supply the three-drug AIDS "cocktail" to 10,000 of Nigeria's 2.6 million HIV-positive residents, the Boston Globe reports. The deal marks the first "substantial purchase" of AIDS drugs by any African nation and offers a "sliver of hope" that wider drug access is forthcoming. Cipla officials at the Abuja AIDS conference told the Globe that they agreed to sell the antiretroviral combination of stavudine, lamivudine and nevirapine to Nigeria for an annual price of $350 per patient, a reduction from the original offer it made in February of $600 per person per year. Cipla's Medical Director Jaideep Gogtay said that the company will sell the drugs at cost to "any government" that "wants to give away the drug" to citizens free of charge. Although the $3.5 million deal is only a "small step" toward easing the nation's AIDS crisis, it "sends a strong message to Western donors that African countries will foot part of the cost of trying to control the pandemic," the Globe reports. David Nabarro, top aide to World Health Organization Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland, called the deal a "symbolic purchase, given the depth of the problem," and added that WHO would "love [the deal] to become real, more widespread." AIDS experts are now focusing on Nigeria's health system and how it will administer the drugs. Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Harvard Center for International Development, met with President Olusegun Obasanjo and "immediately offered the services of Harvard specialists" to create a distribution system for the medications. Harvard's School of Public Health has "strong ties" with the nation's health system, and is slated to study the health systems in three Nigerian states over the next few years with the aid of a $25 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 4/26).
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