Gilead To Sell HIV Drug Tenofovir at Lower Cost in Thailand
Pharmaceutical company Gilead plans to sell at a reduced price its antiretroviral drug tenofovir -- which is sold in the U.S. as Viread -- in Thailand to make the drug more affordable for people who have developed resistance to first-line antiretrovirals, the Bangkok Post reports (Apiradee, Bangkok Post, 8/26). Thailand's Food and Drug Administration on Aug. 15 registered the drug, which will be available for less than $1 per tablet, a 90% price reduction from U.S. and European markets (Duangkamol, The Nation, 8/27). Currently, Gilead's tenofovir costs roughly $504 per person monthly in Thailand, and GPO-VIR, a locally produced generic first-line antiretroviral, that many HIV-positive people receive, costs about $32 per person monthly. At the lower cost, tenofovir and other drugs required in combination with it will cost between $53 and $133 per person monthly. Gilead lowered the cost of the drug after about 5,000 people taking GPO-VIR developed resistance to the drug and had to switch to efavirenz and Abbott Laboratories' antiretroviral Kaletra, which cost as much as $637 per person monthly, the Post reports (Bangkok Post, 8/26). Nimit Tiendum, director of Thailand's AIDS Access Foundation, said the number of people in Thailand developing resistance to GPO-VIR was increasing by about 10% annually (AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/26). Praphan Phanuphak, director of the Thai Red Cross' AIDS Research Centre, said tenofovir could be effective in people who had developed resistance to GPO-VIR. However, Nimit said the new price of tenofovir is still too high, especially for low-income people (Bangkok Post, 8/26). Sales of the drug will begin within the next three months, according to Dow Jones (Dow Jones, 8/26). About 800,000 HIV-positive people live in Thailand, and about 200,000 to 300,000 need antiretrovirals, according to the Post (Bangkok Post, 8/26). In addition, about 80,000 people in Thailand are receiving the drugs, and about 18,000 new cases of HIV were reported in 2006, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.