Some Chinese HIV/AIDS Patients May Receive Domestically Produced AIDS Drug Next Month
A domestically produced generic version of AZT may be available to some HIV/AIDS patients in China as early as next month, Agence France-Presse reports. Northeast Pharmaceutical Group, the Chinese firm that manufactures the drug, said that it has already begun sending details of the treatment to HIV/AIDS care centers. Gou Xilian, a spokesperson for the company, said that the medicine could be available to patients "in special AIDS hospitals" in September (Agence France-Presse, 8/16). The drug is the first antiretroviral drug produced by a Chinese manufacturer to win marketing approval from the Chinese government, which approved the drug for market last week. AZT, which is no longer under patent in China, is sometimes used in combination treatment regimens that are often priced out of reach of most Chinese people (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/13). The generic version of AZT might be sold at approximately one-tenth of the price of imported versions. Combination antiretroviral therapy currently costs between $240 and $360 per person per month in China, but the launch of the generic drug is expected to "significantly reduce" the price of therapy. Zhang Ke, an HIV/AIDS specialist, said that a "reasonable" price of treatment for the majority of Chinese patients would be less than $36 per month, a price that could be obtained through greater domestic production of antiretroviral drugs (Agence France-Presse, 8/16). But doctors say that the new generic drug may not lower the cost of treatment to levels that most Chinese can afford. Some AIDS experts say that the issue of access to treatment highlights the need to focus on HIV prevention efforts in China (BBC News, 8/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.