Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
MSF Calls on Abbott To Make New Version of Kaletra Available in Developing Countries
Medecins Sans Frontieres on Wednesday at a news conference in Lagos, Nigeria, announced that it has asked drug maker Abbott Laboratories to make the new tablet form of its antiretroviral drug Kaletra available in developing countries, Reuters reports (Ahemba, Reuters, 3/15). FDA in October 2005 approved the new form of Kaletra that allows patients to take fewer pills, does not require refrigeration and can be taken with or without food (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/2/05). Kaletra is used as part of second-line antiretroviral drug treatment. According to MSF, 6% of its patients in 2005 who had been taking antiretroviral drugs for three years needed to switch to a second-line treatment (Reuters, 3/15). MSF -- in a letter signed by HIV/AIDS advocates, including U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis -- called on Abbott to "immediately register the drug in all countries where the older form had been registered, as well as in other developing countries" and offer it at a cost of no more than $500 per patient annually, which is the cost of the older version of the drug, AFP/news24.com reports. Currently, the new version of Kaletra in the U.S. costs $9,687 per patient annually (AFP/news24.com, 3/15). "It is a cruel irony that although this drug with no need for refrigeration seems to have been designed for places like Nigeria, it is not available here," Helen Bygrave of MSF said (Reuters, 3/15). Abbott in a letter to MSF said, "While pricing for the new [Kaletra] tablet formulation has not yet been established in countries outside the U.S., Abbott has taken a responsible approach to pricing its HIV medicines and will continue to do so," adding, "Once established, we will provide this information to the community" (Abbott letter, 3/15). MSF also urged Abbott to eliminate patent barriers and permit the manufacturing of generic forms of the drug (Reuters, 3/15).
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