Moscow Times Examines Russian Government’s Failure To Provide Antiretrovirals At No Cost, Mainly Due to High Prices
The Moscow Times on Tuesday examined the Russian government's failure to provide antiretroviral drugs at no cost to HIV-positive individuals living in the country as guaranteed by a 1995 federal law, primarily because of the medications' high prices. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 60,000 Russian HIV/AIDS patients urgently need antiretroviral drugs, but only about 2,000 are receiving them (Boykewich, Moscow Times, 8/16). Russia has registered 307,000 HIV cases, but HIV/AIDS experts estimate more than one million HIV-positive people live in the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/18). In addition, some HIV-positive individuals who were receiving treatment no longer have access to all of their medications, making them susceptible to developing drug resistance, which requires more expensive and complicated treatments. Antiretroviral treatment in Russia costs about $8,000 per person annually, and the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade estimates the average annual income in the country is about $3,600. Further compounding the problem is a new law mandating that funding for the drugs must come from regional budgets, some of which already are strained. Some developing countries have successfully negotiated price reductions with international pharmaceutical companies, but Russia's economy puts it in a class with Western Europe and the U.S., and drug companies say wealthy nations should pay more to fund the development of future HIV/AIDS drugs, according to the Times. Although Russia is scheduled to begin receiving money in September from two Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria grants to fund the purchase of antiretroviral drugs, some health advocates say this money will not meet the demand, especially as the HIV/AIDS epidemic progresses and the government needs to budget more money to provide treatment, the Times reports (Moscow Times, 8/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.