Brazil, Seven Other Countries To Form Alliance To Share Antiretroviral Drug Manufacturing, Technology Information
Brazil and seven other countries plan to establish an alliance aimed at improving the manufacture of drugs -- including antiretroviral drugs -- by sharing information on technologies, the Associated Press reports. Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa, Ukraine, Thailand and Nigeria are set to formally announce the partnership during the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, through July 16, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Health. In a statement, the health ministry said that the alliance will focus on two issues: "investments for the production of new drugs, and the improvement of the capacity of local production of generics." In addition, the alliance will help bolster negotiations for low-cost antiretrovirals and "speed up the dissemination of new technologies," according to the Associated Press (Radowitz, Associated Press, 7/10). Brazil's National STD/AIDS Programme, which is considered to be one of the most progressive in the world, manufactures and distributes generic versions of antiretrovirals to HIV-positive people. Although the health ministry has recorded 310,310 AIDS cases, experts estimate that there are 600,000 HIV-positive people in the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/28). The country also managed to negotiate discounts with pharmaceutical companies "simply by threatening to break the rules if treatments became too costly" when it entered the World Trade Organization -- which mandates compliance with trademark rules, according to the AP/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Brazil's drug program has cut the number of AIDS-related deaths in half in four years and has kept approximately 100,000 HIV/AIDS patients alive, the AP/Journal Sentinel reports. The country spends $175 million a year -- or 1.5% of its health budget -- on antiretrovirals alone (Astor, AP/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/12). Jarbas Barbosa, secretary of sanitary vigilance for the Ministry of Health, said, "If India or China have a product that isn't protected by patents, we will use the agreement to transfer technology and vice versa." Brazilian officials also plan to meet with British health officials at the conference to discuss the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Bolivia, according to the Ministry of Health statement, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 7/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.