Generic Antiretrovirals ‘Best Hope’ for People Living With HIV/AIDS in Developing Countries, Opinion Piece Says
"Cheap, safe, generic" antiretroviral drugs are the "best hope" for the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries, Clint Trout, associate director of international policy at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, writes in a Washington Times opinion piece in response to a Nov. 17 Times opinion piece by American Enterprise Institute fellow James Glassman (Trout, Washington Times, 11/21). Glassman wrote that the World Health Organization's and other nongovernmental organizations' strategies of supplying generic antiretroviral drugs to HIV/AIDS patients in Africa is "in shambles" and "almost certainly making people sicker." He added that a study by the Hudson Institute found that the average price of patented medications in developing nations is less than the cost of generic drugs in those countries (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/17). However, HIV-positive people in countries such as Zambia -- which has close to one million HIV/AIDS cases -- are "alive and well today" because they are on a regimen of "cheap, effective, generic" antiretrovirals, according to Trout. In addition, it is "ludicrous" for Glassman and the Hudson Institute to "claim generics aren't less expensive" because the institute's study was "flawed and incomplete," as it relied on one drug price list from a single organization and did not compare the prices for most fixed-dose combination drugs, Trout writes. Although some pharmaceutical companies and their "allies" have "engaged in a cynical campaign of deceptions to discredit generics," there is "simply no evidence the generic drugs now used are defective," according to Trout, who adds that a Medecins Sans Frontieres report released earlier this year showed no difference in efficacy between brand-name and generic drugs. "Moving from cheap generic to expensive brand-name" antiretrovirals in developing countries "would consign millions with HIV/AIDS to a world without hope," Trout concludes (Washington Times, 11/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.