Lebanon Health Ministry Signs Agreement With Merck To Purchase Discounted Antiretrovirals
The Lebanon Ministry of Health on Tuesday signed an agreement with pharmaceutical company Merck to purchase antiretroviral drugs at 15% of their market price through the Accelerating Access Initiative, Lebanon's Daily Star reports. The initiative, which is a joint endeavor by UNAIDS, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the United Nations Population Fund, Merck and other pharmaceutical companies, provides increased access to AIDS education, testing and treatment, including discounts on antiretroviral drugs, such as Merck's efavirenz and indinavir. The agreement is expected to reduce the ministry's cost of providing antiretrovirals from $1,200 per person per month to $300 per person per month, according to Mustafa Naqib, director of the National AIDS Control Program. The monthly savings could result in an overall savings of at least $1 million per year. Lebanon has recorded 697 HIV cases, 180 of which are eligible for treatment, according to Naqib. The treatment of 90% of the 180 patients is covered by the ministry, and the treatment for the other 10% is covered under the National Social Security Fund, Naqib said. The agreement was signed by Albert Jokhadar, adviser to Health Minister Suleiman Franjieh, and Farouq Salameh, Merck's Middle East director, and will be implemented soon after the completion of remaining paperwork, according to Naqib (Al-Azar, Daily Star, 4/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.