Brazil To Build Three Generic Antiretroviral Drug Plants in Africa
Brazil has reached a deal with the African Union to build three generic antiretroviral drug manufacturing plants on the continent, where more than 70% of the 42 million HIV-positive people in the world live, Reuters Health reports. Amara Essy, interim chair of the commission of the 53 member African Union, said that only technical details for the three plants -- one in North Africa, another in Central Africa and a third in Southern Africa -- need to be worked out, according to Reuters Health. "Millions of people are dying and unless we tackle this problem, development will be hindered," Essy said, adding, "We need billions of dollars at the moment for AIDS drugs and many countries cannot afford the kind of money needed for the drugs." Brazil has been seen as a "pioneer" in producing generic antiretroviral drugs, with an "aggressive" prevention campaign and success in negotiating for cheaper drugs (Shacinda, Reuters Health, 3/28). Last year, the Brazilian government agreed to donate some of its self-produced generic antiretroviral drugs and share the technology it uses to derive and manufacture the drugs with some developing nations that cannot afford the drugs at their commercial price. The Brazilian Ministry of Health manufactures generic versions of patented antiretroviral drugs in local laboratories as part of its national HIV/AIDS program, lowering the annual cost of treatment to about $1,000 per person. Brazil's actions had raised strong objections from pharmaceutical companies and the U.S. government, but opposition has decreased since a World Trade Organization declaration in the fall of 2001 stated that international patent rights "do not take precedence over public health crises" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/10/02). Although Essy did not set a date for when construction of the plants would begin, he said that A.U. officials would meet with Brazilian officials later this month to "discuss the plans," according to Reuters Health (Reuters Health, 3/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.