Abbott Laboratories Announces Expansion of Program Providing Reduced Cost HIV/AIDS Drugs to Low-, Lower-Middle-Income Countries
Abbott Laboratories on Sunday announced that it is expanding a program that provides its antiretroviral drug Kaletra at a reduced cost to include an additional 45 low- and middle-income countries, the Wall Street Journal reports (Kamp, Wall Street Journal, 8/14). An Abbott spokesperson said the company would add countries considered "low-income" -- such as India, Pakistan and Vietnam -- as well as "lower-middle-income" countries -- including China, Jordan, Syria and several countries in South America and Asia. The countries will pay $2,200 per HIV-positive person annually, down from the previous annual cost of $3,300 or $5,000. The company provides Kaletra at a cost of $500 per patient annually in 69 of the poorest developing countries, including all of Africa, according to the Chicago Tribune. Kaletra costs more than $7,500 per patient annually in the U.S., the Tribune reports. The new payment structure will apply to the tablet and soft-gel capsule formulations of Kaletra and will be implemented immediately, according to the Tribune. "Prices apply to all developing world public funders of HIV medicines, specifically governments and nongovernmental organizations," an Abbott statement says. Abbott Chair and CEO Miles White at a shareholders meeting in April was criticized by more than 60 advocates over the cost of Kaletra. Groups also have criticized Abbott for not making Aluvia -- a newer, tablet form of Kaletra that does not require refrigeration and would be particularly beneficial in developing countries, where many treatment facilities lack cooling devices for medical products -- available. Abbott said that it is seeking approval of Aluvia for sale in countries worldwide and that it has made a "significant investment" in manufacturing capacity to address accessibility issues for the new pill (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 8/13).
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