Beckman Coulter Ships 80,000 HIV/AIDS Monitoring Tests to South Africa Under Clinton Foundation Deal
Medical technology company Beckman Coulter has shipped 80,000 discounted HIV/AIDS monitoring tests to South Africa as part of a program sponsored by the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times reports (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 3/24). Former President Clinton in January announced a deal between the foundation and five medical technology companies -- Beckman, Becton, Dickinson & Co., Roche Molecular Diagnostics, Bayer HealthCare and bioMerieux -- that will cut the prices of viral load and CD4+ T cell diagnostic tests in developing nations by as much as 80%. Although HIV diagnostics have not received the same media attention as antiretroviral drugs, they are a significant part of the cost of HIV/AIDS treatment. Limited funding has led doctors in some developing nations to stop administering viral load tests and minimize their use of CD4+ tests. The tests -- which are standard in the United States -- help doctors determine when to begin administering antiretroviral drugs and whether the drugs are working (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/15). Beckman spokesperson Anne Warde said that the first tests shipped would be used to make sure patients are adhering to their treatment regimens and that the therapies are effective, according to Bloomberg/Times. The company expects to ship as many as 400,000 of the CD4+ tests by the end of the year and 15 million tests through 2008. The company would not disclose the discount it is providing to the South African National Health Laboratory Service, which is paying the company for the tests, Bloomberg/Times reports. The Clinton Foundation -- which is guaranteeing payment for the tests -- has said that its price agreements will cut the cost of AIDS-related tests by as much as 80% and could save South Africa $300 million over five years (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 3/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.