GlaxoSmithKline Announces Further Antiretroviral Price Cuts in Kenya
Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline announced on Thursday that it will "further slash" prices of its antiretroviral drugs in Kenya, Reuters reports. The announcement comes as the Kenyan parliament prepares to vote on legislation that would allow the country to import and manufacture cheaper generic HIV/AIDS medications (Reuters, 5/24). Some AIDS advocates have expressed concern that the pharmaceutical industry might try to influence lawmakers to kill or amend the bill. Earlier this month, GSK Commercial Director William Kiarie said that the company accepts Kenya's proposal but is "concerned about procedures for implementing it" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/11). However, with only 1,000 of Kenya's estimated 2.2 million HIV-positive citizens able to afford the medications, Kiarie said, "We are going to make our products cheaper. ... We are going to increase the number [of treated HIV-positive individuals] from the truly miserable 1,000 number we have now ... by bringing prices down" (Reuters, 5/24). The drugs will be made available to the government, aid organizations and large employee health programs and will be offered at a "no-profit price." Kiarie refused to discuss specific drugs and their prices. Indra Van Gisbergen, a lawyer working with the Kenyan Coalition for Access to Essential Medicines, said that the announcement, which she said was "nothing that hadn't been promised" before, was timed to influence the bill that would allow the importation or manufacture of cheaper generic drugs. "This announcement should not be used as an excuse not to pass the bill and allow generic drugs into Kenya," Van Gisbergen said (Tomlinson, Associated Press, 5/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.