Medecins Sans Frontieres Urges WHO To Expedite Program To Increase Access to HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB Drugs
Medecins Sans Frontieres on Tuesday urged the World Health Organization to expedite a program facilitating developing countries' access to less-expensive versions of drugs, including medication used to treat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. MSF said the problem is with WHO's prequalification process for drugs, which aims to reduce costs by setting a minimum quality standard for less-expensive drugs. MSF said the program's delays in approving generic versions of patented medicines are "causing a bottleneck" and making it "impossible" for developing countries and aid agencies to gain access to the drugs, according to AFP/Yahoo! News (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/17). "This is restricting patients' access to essential medicines in many of the places we work in, particularly in countries that have limited capacity to assess the quality of medicines themselves," MSF International Council Director Rowan Gillies said (Reuters, 5/17). In addition, WHO has not increased the program's financial resources since 2004, according to an MSF release. "If the WHO director general does not increase the capacity of this vital program, the project risks becoming a barrier to, rather than a tool for, expanding access to medicines," Gillies said (MSF release, 5/17). WHO Coordinator for Essential Medicines and Drugs Lembit Rago said delays are being caused by the "painstaking efforts" the agency is undertaking to ensure that approved medicines meet quality standards, Reuters reports (Reuters, 5/17).
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