Latin American AIDS Activists Press Brazil to Supply Generic Drugs, Pressure Other Governments on Treatment
Latin American AIDS activists are accusing the Brazilian government of "being all talk and no action in the push to ensure universal access to AIDS treatment" and plan to protest the government's refusal to export generic antiretroviral drugs to help Latin Americans outside the country who are HIV-positive, Reuters reports. AIDS activists recently asked the Brazilian government, which produces generic versions of eight of 15 antiretroviral drugs, to provide an emergency supply of medication to a Honduran woman dying of AIDS-related causes, but their request was denied. Paulo Teixeira, head of Brazil's AIDS program, which distributes the drugs free-of-charge to HIV-positive Brazilians, said the government was in "no position" to export the drugs. "How can a country be responsible for giving this kind of assistance? It doesn't make sense, especially for a developing country," Teixeira said, adding, "Every drug I take from my arsenal comes out of the Health Ministry's budget." He added that Brazil is "doing all it can" to press other governments to expand treatment access and said that exporting the drugs would "contravene" Brazil's international trade agreements and "undermine" price concessions it has won by threatening to break drug patents. AIDS activists said that Brazil has a responsibility as a "regional leader on HIV" to take a "firmer stance" on treatment access, especially since it has fought to win such concessions from the international community and pharmaceutical companies. "We have a humanitarian problem of worldwide proportions. Anyone with the resources to help should not be inhibited by politics or trade agreements," Richard Stern, director of Agua Buena Human Rights Association in Costa Rica, said. AIDS activists throughout Latin America plan to protest outside of Brazilian embassies on Monday (Baldwin, Reuters, 5/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.