Thai Government to Sell AIDS Drug Combination Pill for Less Than $1 Per DayThailand's Government Pharmaceutical Organization announced on Friday that it will sell a pill that combines three AIDS drugs for less than $1 a day, making it the lowest priced AIDS drug in the world, Agence France-Presse reports. GPO-VIR, a combination of the drugs stavudine, lamivudine and nevirapine, will be sold for 46 cents per tablet. Two tablets are needed daily, bringing the price to 92 cents per day. GPO produced an initial batch of 120,000 pills on March 18 and will begin selling them at six GPO retailers next month (Agence France-Presse, 3/22). The pills will also be available by prescription in state hospitals. The GPO hopes to produce three million tablets a month within six months and plans to increase that number to six million tablets a month within a year (Bangkok Post, 3/22). Although the three drugs used in the combination pill are patented in the United States, the patents are not recognized in Thailand, allowing the government to produce the pills without fear of legal reprisals (AP/Asian Wall Street Journal, 3/22).
A Welcome Move
Yorgos Kapranis, director of Medecins Sans Frontieres' operations in Thailand, said his group has used GPO drugs "on hundreds of patients" and has "no reason to believe there is any problem with the quality of GPO-VIR." Nimit Tien-udom, director of the AIDS Access Foundation, called the drug -- which should reduce drug expenditures for 695,000 Thais -- a "benefit on personal and national levels." One million people in Thailand have HIV/AIDS (Agence France-Presse, 3/22).