Bush Administration Should Purchase Generic Antiretroviral Drugs for Distribution in Developing Countries, Editorial Says
The delay in providing treatment to HIV/AIDS patients in developing countries because of "disputes" over generic drugs is an "international outrage," an Arizona Daily Star editorial says (Arizona Daily Star, 4/5). Officials from HHS, the World Health Organization, UNAIDS and the Southern African Development Community met at a two-day meeting in Gaborone, Botswana, last week to discuss standards for generic antiretroviral drugs for use in developing countries. The medications in question are fixed-dose combination, or FDC, antiretroviral drugs, including Cipla's Triomune and Ranbaxy Laboratories' Triviro, which combine stavudine, lamivudine and nevirapine into one pill that is taken twice a day and costs as little as $140 per person per year. A regimen of the same three drugs purchased separately from patent holders GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Boehringer-Ingelheim requires six pills a day and costs about $562 per patient per year (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/1). The debate is "mostly political," as U.S. brand-name drug makers are negotiating on their own to allow the use of generics in exchange for royalties equal to 5% of the price of the drugs, the editorial says. President Bush should "relinquish his practice of purchasing the brand-name drugs," a move that could be "one of the goodwill gestures that the president can make to the rest of the world," according to the Daily Star. The editorial concludes, "If generics can smooth the process [of distributing antiretrovirals to patients in developing countries] and save lives, they should be made as accessible as necessary" (Arizona Daily Star, 4/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.