Microbicide Development To Prevent HIV Should Be Government’s Priority, Opinion Piece Says
Although Bristol-Myers Squibb's and Merck's agreement to license four experimental antiretroviral treatments to the International Partnership for Microbicides to formulate and test as microbicides is "notable," the impact of such treatments "will only be felt when federal agencies treat microbicide development as a priority," Alisha Graves, a graduate student at the University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health, and Suellen Miller, director of Safe Motherhood Programs at the Women's Global Health Imperative at the University of California-San Francisco, write in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece (Graves/Miller, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/9). The licenses, which are royalty-free, provide IPM with the rights to distribute the antiretroviral compounds in developing countries. The agreement marks the first time large pharmaceutical companies have signed on to help develop microbicides, which include a range of products -- such as gels, films and sponges -- that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in women (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/1). Graves and Miller write that the Microbicide Development Act (S 550) -- which was introduced in the Senate in March by Sens. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and would establish a plan for NIH, CDC and USAID to coordinate and expand federal research into the development of microbicides -- could help make microbicide development a priority. "Sexual decision-making for many women in most developing countries is solely the man's domain," so finding a method of protection that can be used "by women without the knowledge of their sexual partners, is imperative," the authors write. The Microbicide Development Act is neither a partisan issue, nor a "political maneuver, but a chance to improve the lives of women throughout the world," Graves and Miller conclude (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.