Central American Nations Join Forces to Buy AIDS Drugs
Six Central American nations have decided to create a purchasing pool to try to negotiate lower prices for AIDS drugs by buying in bulk, Reuters reports. Health ministers from the six nations -- Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama -- formed the agreement during a Friday meeting in the Honduran city of Santa Rosa de Copan. "Individually our countries have had offers from different pharmaceutical companies for discounts and the idea is to negotiate one big package to obtain the lowest price possible," Honduran Health Minister Plutarco Castellanos said (Reuters, 8/11). One firm, Merck, Sharp and Dohme, has offered to "slash" by 85% the prices of two of its AIDS drugs, but Central American health officials decided they should "aim for across-the-board discounts" from all companies (Lanchin, BBC News, 8/12). Castellanos said, "We agreed to design a strategy to negotiate joint purchases of anti-retroviral drugs and obtain discounts that will make them cheaper for consumers." Of the 36.1 million people infected with HIV worldwide, 1.8 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean (Reuters, 8/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.