GlaxoSmithKline to Offer Discounts on HIV Drugs Ziagen, Trizivir and Agenerase to Developing WorldGlaxoSmithKline will announce today "another round" of price reductions on anti-AIDS drugs for developing nations, moving to sell the antiretrovirals Ziagen, Trizivir and Agenerase at cost to 63 of the world's poorest countries, the Wall Street Journal reports. Under the new preferential pricing plan, Ziagen, which is sold in a standard two-pill treatment for $10.68 per day in the United States, will be offered for $3.80 per day; triple-drug combination pill Trizivir will be reduced from $27.92 to $6.60 per day; and Agenerase, a protease inhibitor, will be sold at $8.70 per day for 16 pills rather than the U.S. price of $18.50. Furthermore, GlaxoSmithKline will drop the price of a "full course" of its 12-pill malaria regimen Malarone from $52.71 in the U.S. to $19.20 in poorer nations. It will also continue to offer the combination therapy Combivir to governments, charity groups and nongovernment organizations in the "least-developed nations" for $2 per day and says it is negotiating drug discounts with several large African employers.
Still Too Costly
However, Glaxo CEO Jean-Pierre Garnier acknowledged that even with such discounts the medicines will still be too costly for most patients in the developing world. He said, "We're not naive about the fact that compared to the means in these countries, everything is overpriced, even the generics." He added that he expects the drugs may be subsidized by international purchasing funds such as the new Global AIDS and Health Fund proposed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Garnier also noted that the drug maker is "not surprised" that previous discount offers on anti-AIDS drugs for developing countries have been "slow to get to patients." He explained, "You can't simply use those drugs in an open environment because there are a whole lot of practical issues to overcome," including creating distribution channels and ensuring patient compliance with complex drug regimens. To this end, Glaxo said it intends to establish a new corporate social-responsibility committee to examine the firm's policies in poor countries, and plans to begin a series of pilot programs to determine the impact of preferentially priced anti-infectives, deworming and diarrheal drugs (Zimmerman, Wall Street Journal, 6/11). The new discount offers come just two months after an April statement in which GlaxoSmithKline said it would not cut the price of AIDS medications for developing countries any more than the 90% it already had offered. At the time, a GSK spokesperson said, "A 90% reduction is a significant offer ... a huge reduction. We are not going to go further because we would get into a ridiculous situation" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/9).