Chinese Government Approves Domestically Produced AIDS Drug
The Chinese government has for the first time issued marketing approval for an AIDS drug produced by a Chinese manufacturer, the Wall Street Journal reports. The drug, a generic form of GlaxoSmithKline's AZT, was produced by the state-owned Northeast General Pharmaceutical Factory. AZT, which is no longer under patent in China, is commonly taken in combination with other antiretroviral medications. However, such treatment can cost up to $10,000, a price out of the reach of most Chinese people. The development of the new generic form of AZT may help make treatment more attainable for larger numbers of people. The approval also "suggests Beijing is waking up to the urgency of confronting" China's HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Journal reports (Chang, Wall Street Journal, 8/13). UNAIDS estimates that China had up to 1.5 million HIV-positive residents at the end of 2001 and that the country may have an HIV-positive population of 10 million by 2010 if no "effective countermeasures" are taken to slow the HIV/AIDS epidemic (Reuters, 8/10). China's price administration bureau must still approve the drug's retail price, but Shi Yanling, an executive with Northeast General's information department, said she expects the drug to be available in tablet and capsule form "very soon" (Wall Street Journal, 8/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.