Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’ Examines the Chinese Government’s Efforts To Increase Access to Antiretroviral Drugs
NPR's "All Things Considered" yesterday examined the lack of access to antiretroviral treatments for HIV-positive Chinese individuals and the government's plan to increase access to the drugs. Chi Chow Cho, director general of China's Department of Disease Control, said that the government -- which has "emerge[d] from its state of denial" about HIV/AIDS, according to "All Things Considered" -- is using a "two-pronged" approach to provide citizens with HIV/AIDS treatment. The government first plans to work to lower the price of HIV/AIDS medications and will then "actively promote" the production of antiretroviral drugs in China. The government has recently approved the generic production of three antiretroviral drugs. Chi added that if patents got in the way of producing other generic drugs, China would "permit production of the drugs despite the patents." However, Chi later "backtrack[ed]" on his statement, saying that the government did not plan to violate any foreign drug patents. While China is allowed to disregard patents in the event of a "national health crisis," Chinese government officials do not want to "offend" pharmaceutical companies. Approximately 100 of China's estimated one million HIV-positive citizens have access to antiretroviral drugs. Dr. Lu Lin-Huo, a doctor at Detang Hospital, one of the "few" hospitals in China with doctors qualified to treat HIV-positive patients, said that "[t]reating the disease and easing the patient's burden is the most basic issue." He added, "As long as it's inexpensive, it doesn't much matter whether we use imported or domestic medicine" (Kuhn, "All Things Considered," NPR, 9/23). The segment is available in RealPlayer audio online.
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