U.K. To Advocate for Lower Antiretroviral Prices in Developing Countries, Assist in Compulsory Licenses, Minister Says
U.K. Department for International Development Minister Gareth Thomas on Wednesday during a speech at a conference in London said the U.K. "will continue to push" the pharmaceutical industry to reduce the price of newer antiretroviral drugs in developing countries, London's Guardian reports. Thomas also pledged U.K. assistance to developing countries that wish to use a World Trade Organization waiver that allows countries to issue compulsory licenses to import generic drugs for diseases such as HIV/AIDS if a country confirms that it cannot manufacture them domestically (Boseley, Guardian, 12/14). The WTO general council last week agreed to extend the 2003 waiver allowing compulsory licenses. The measure, which must be ratified by Dec. 1, 2007, needs approval from two-thirds of the organization's 148 members to become permanent (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/7). Thomas said it is "inevitable" that HIV/AIDS patients will develop resistance to first-line antiretrovirals, which are now available at reduced prices. He added that newer, second-line antiretrovirals can cost more than 10 times as much as first-line drugs. The U.K. will promote the idea of "differential pricing for developing countries so that it is the norm for essential medicines to be cheaper in these countries," Thomas said (Guardian, 12/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.