Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
ACT UP/Paris Protests Against Tenofovir Trials ‘Hypocritical,’ Contribute to High Cost of AIDS Drugs, Opinion Piece Says
ACT UP/Paris' protests of a clinical trial testing the antiretroviral drug tenofovir to determine if it can reduce the risk of HIV infection are "hypocritical" because conducting the trials in a low-cost environment will help to keep down the price of antiretroviral drugs, Roger Bate, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece (Bate, Wall Street Journal, 3/11). Cameroon's Ministry of Health last month announced that it had suspended the trial, which involved HIV-negative commercial sex workers in the city of Douala, after ACT UP/Paris alleged that the trial violated ethical norms and called for its cancellation. The group claims that the study recruited particularly vulnerable participants without providing HIV/AIDS prevention information or treatment. However, Family Health International, which is conducting the trial using funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, denies ACT UP/Paris' claim that the study is unethical and is addressing all of the ministry's concerns and recommendations regarding the trial. The health ministry has agreed to allow the follow-up of participants currently enrolled in the trial (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/9). Organizations such as ACT UP/Paris "should encourage, not discourage, cheaper trials in places like Cameroon," Bate writes, adding that any future Gilead profits from HIV/AIDS drugs would serve to encourage further research and development in a shrinking field. The results of the clinical trial are "crucial" because it might prevent someone exposed to HIV from contracting the virus, which is the "best alternative" to prevention until a vaccine is developed, Bate writes. He concludes that "groups like ACT UP need to grow up -- for while their rhetoric is to care for AIDS sufferers around the world, their actions have the opposite effect" (Wall Street Journal, 3/11).
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