President Bush Should Allow Use of WHO-Approved Generic Fixed-Dose HIV/AIDS Drugs To Save Money, Lives, Editorial Says
A recent Government Accountability Office report expresses "temperate" criticism of President Bush for refusing to allow the use of generic, fixed-dose antiretroviral drugs that have been approved by the World Health Organization in order to treat more HIV-positive people under his five-year, $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial says. The report, titled "Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Selection of Antiretroviral Medications Provided Under U.S. Emergency Plan Is Limited," says that Bush's plan is "at odds with the strategies of other healthy groups and neglects the preferences of countries in need," according to the editorial. Bush's program does not allow for the use or distribution of antiretroviral drugs that have not been approved by FDA, even though some of the drugs have "passed muster" with WHO and other global health agencies, the editorial says. The "ultimate cost" of this "brand-name entrancement" is "hundreds of millions of dollars wasted and many lives lost," according to the editorial. However, FDA's approval last month of a generic version of a widely used co-packaged antiretroviral drug regimen made by South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare is "a first step toward righting the wrong," according to the editorial. Although the approval is a "heartening development," it should not be necessary because the drugs already have been "examined and acclaimed by the scrupulous WHO," the editorial says, concluding, "Perhaps the Bush administration -- and the world -- would be better off sticking with the advice of WHO" (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.