China To Introduce Two Imported Antiretrovirals To Address Drug Resistance Among HIV-Positive People
China plans to provide access to two imported antiretroviral drugs to address growing drug resistance among some HIV-positive people in the country, Reuters Health reports. Treatment with tenofovir, sold by Gilead Sciences under the brand name Viread, and Kaletra, a combination of the protease inhibitors lopinavir and ritonavir and sold by Abbott Labs, can cost more than $1,500 annually. According to Reuters Health, drugs already available in China can cost about 5,000 yuan, or about $730.
Health Ministry official Hao Yang said that the decision to introduce the two drugs means that HIV-positive people in China can access nine of 20 available antiretrovirals (Reuters Health, 1/20). Chen Zhiwei of the AIDS Institute in Hong Kong in September 2008 said that as HIV spreads beyond high-risk groups into China's general population, drug-resistant strains of the virus also are appearing in parts of the country. Chen's comments followed a study published in the journal Nature that found HIV cases are increasing among women and men who have sex with men in the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/10/08).
Almost 60,000 people in China have received access to no-cost antiretrovirals since the drugs were introduced in 2003, reducing the HIV/AIDS mortality rate from more than one-quarter in 2002 to 5.8% in 2007, according to Reuters Health (Reuters Health, 1/20).