African Nations Need Assurance of Safety, Efficacy of FDC AIDS Drugs, Opinion Piece Says
The United States "should continue to work directly with African health officials to assure that the AIDS drugs they are getting are the best medicines money can buy, not the kind of drugs that advance [HIV/AIDS advocates'] political agenda," Robert Goldberg, director of the Manhattan Institute's Center for Medical Progress, writes in a Washington Times opinion piece. Goldberg says that a recent agreement among the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, UNICEF, the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to extend discounted antiretroviral prices to developing countries shows that the organizations are "hell-bent" on procuring "less effective generic medicines to appease the activist organizations and liberal foundations who fight against intellectual property protections" (Goldberg, Washington Times, 4/8). Under the new agreement, more than 100 countries that receive aid from the World Bank, Global Fund and UNICEF will have access to fixed-dose combination, or FDC, antiretrovirals at about $140 per person per year -- about one-third to one-half of the cost of the lowest price currently offered (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/6). Goldberg says that it is "predictabl[e]" that some advocates are saying that the Bush administration's "refusal to go along with their generics-only approach is simply an effort to protect the profits of big drug companies," adding, "That's not true." Instead, Goldberg says that the "real issue is that African nations want evidence that lumping three generic versions of three HIV drugs into one pill is safe or effective." African public health officials want "their people [to] receive generic medicines that are as good as [the antiretrovirals] Americans get," he says, adding that the officials "seem to understand what the activists care nothing about." Goldberg concludes that while some HIV/AIDS advocates "jet around the world fighting their ideological jihad, millions of sick people" living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries "are waiting -- and waiting -- for the medicines that could save their lives" (Washington Times, 4/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.