Zambian Government Considers Importing Low-Cost AIDS Drugs
Zambian government officials on Wednesday met with representatives from the World Health Organization to discuss ways for the country to import cheaper AIDS drugs, Reuters reports. The Zambian National HIV/AIDS Council and Central Board of Health met with the WHO to "map out policies to curb the spread" of HIV through treatment. Currently, only private hospitals and chemists sell antiretroviral drugs, but they "charge prices that ordinary Zambians ... cannot afford." The Zambian government has "not yet officially allowed" antiretrovirals to be purchased for its medical centers because of the drugs' high cost and "the limited ability of the state health sector" to dispense the drugs and monitor "complicated" treatment regimes. Dr. Golden Bola, director-general of the HIV/AIDS council, said, "We have reached a point where we have to seriously put in place measures that will protect both the infected and affected. Sitting back and waiting for Zambians to reform or change their behavior is just not helping, the disease is spreading" (Nampito, Reuters, 8/8). In April, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co. offered to "slash" the prices of antiretroviral drugs used in Zambia if the country agrees to keep the drugs from being smuggled out to other nations (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.