Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Public-Health Groups Negotiate Discounts for TB Drugs in Developing Nations
Doctors Without Borders, the World Health Organization and Harvard Medical School have successfully negotiated price reductions on tuberculosis drugs with Eli Lilly, Jacobus Pharmaceutical and several generic drug makers, a development that may become "a model for forcing down the price of medicine, including AIDS drugs, in poor countries," the Wall Street Journal reports. The group of public-health experts secured discounts of up to 96% for drugs to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis strains that are spreading in the United States and many countries in Europe. Currently, two million people die of TB each year, and HIV-positive individuals are more vulnerable than others to becoming infected and dying from the disease due to immune suppression. The two-year course of treatment for multidrug-resistant TB normally costs $19,000, but by "pool[ing] procurement and persuad[ing] generic manufacturers to enter the market," the groups negotiated a
full-course treatment cost of $1,800. Countries targeted to receive the drug discounts were required to first convince the agencies that they had a proper health care system in place to ensure the medicines would be appropriately distributed and used. (The Journal does not list the countries involved.) The project is described by the group of scientists on the Web site of the journal Science (Naik/Zimmerman, Wall Street Journal, 7/20).
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