Nine Drug Companies Agree To Review Prices of Antiretroviral Drugs at U.N. Secretary-General Annan’s Request
Executives from nine pharmaceutical companies on Monday, at the request of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, agreed to review the prices of their antiretroviral drugs to make them more affordable and accessible, Reuters U.K. reports. At a meeting aimed to encourage drug makers to widen access to antiretroviral treatment in low- and middle-income countries, Annan urged the companies to lower their drug prices, as well as develop more drugs and diagnostic tools for children living with HIV/AIDS (Arieff, Reuters U.K., 7/25). Annan in a statement issued after the meeting said the companies pledged to work to achieve the goal of universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment by 2010. They also agreed to prioritize the research and development of pediatric antiretrovirals and diagnostic tools; register their drugs and diagnostic tools in as many countries as possible, including developing countries; sustain negotiations with third-party manufacturers to make antiretrovirals and diagnostics more affordable; and invest more in researching and developing new HIV-related drugs and diagnostics, such as vaccines and microbicides, which could help women protect themselves from HIV transmission. The United Nations pledged to establish, promote and update guidelines on HIV/AIDS diagnosis, treatment and product quality for adults and children. The organization also will increase efforts to collaborate with all partners to maintain political action, sufficient resources and increased access to voluntary testing and counseling, according to Annan. "Progress on all these fronts is essential if we are to win the fight against HIV/AIDS -- the greatest challenge of our generation," Annan said (AP/Easy Bourse, 7/25). The meeting marked the first time Annan in the past five years has included generic drug makers in discussions (Reuters U.K., 7/25). Executives at the meeting represented Aspen Pharmacare, Aurobindo Pharma, Becton Dickinson, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Hetero Drugs, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Ranbaxy Laboratories (AP/Easy Bourse, 7/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.