WHO Recommendations on Patents, AIDS Drugs Based on Technical Assessments, Teixeira Says in Letter to Editor
The World Health Organization's recommendations on HIV/AIDS medications -- including possible three-in-one combination pills -- are based on technical assessments of "what is needed to get millions of people in treatment in a short time," Paulo Teixeira, director of the WHO HIV/AIDS program, writes in a Washington Post letter to the editor. A front-page Post story that was published on Oct. 25 suggested that WHO would make recommendations regarding combination antiretroviral drugs that could violate patent rights, Teixeira says (Teixeira, Washington Post, 11/5). The article said that WHO's endorsement of combination pills "is expected to be controversial because they could violate a variety of patents" (Vendantam, Washington Post, 10/25). However, patent laws "vary from country to country" and decisions regarding drug patents are made on a national level, according to Teixeira. Although the ultimate goal of WHO is universal access to antiretroviral drugs, the organization's immediate goal is for three million HIV-positive people to have access to antiretroviral drugs by 2005, Teixeira says. "This means simplified guidelines and standard treatments -- including possible and desirable fixed-dose combinations to reduce the pill burden and to minimize the possibility of resistance," he says, adding that WHO on World AIDS Day -- Dec. 1, 2003 -- is expected to release its course of action for reaching its goal (Washington Post, 11/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.