Gilead Expanding List of Countries Eligible To Receive Viread, Truvada at ‘No-Profit Price’
California-based pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences on Wednesday announced that it is expanding its list of countries eligible to receive the antiretroviral drug Viread at a "no-profit price" to include 27 more nations, mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/18). The company in December 2002 announced that it would offer Viread, known generically as tenofovir, at cost to all African nations and 15 other low-income countries. The access program allows qualified programs to purchase the drug at the lower price. Treatment programs are able to apply online or by mail, fax or e-mail to purchase Viread at the reduced cost. The company chooses eligible applicants based on their abilities to maintain an effective treatment program, prescribe and monitor patients, and adequately store and use drugs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/4/03). Under the expansion, the lowest-income countries in the Caribbean, as well as Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras and Nicaragua, will have access to Viread at the "no-profit price" of $24.71 per patient monthly, or 82 cents daily. These countries also will be able to purchase Gilead's antiretroviral Truvada -- a combination of Viread and Emtriva, known generically as emtricitabine -- for $29.75 per patient monthly, or 99 cents per day (Gilead release, 3/16).
Gilead's announcement "drew scorn" from the medical aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres, which has become "increasingly disillusioned" with how the company runs its program for developing countries, according to the Chronicle. "Like most announcements from pharmaceutical companies, there is something disingenuous about this one," Rachel Cohen, U.S. director of MSF's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, said. Of the 68 countries originally included in Gilead's program, 22 have received Viread at cost, according to the pharmaceutical company. In addition, Gilead has registered Viread in only five of the originally named countries. According to Gilead spokesperson Amy Flood, the company is attempting to register the drug in qualified countries, but the process is "often slow," the Chronicle reports (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/18).