Drug price cuts yet to reach PWAs
Tuesday 30 March 2004
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UGANDA: Drug price cuts yet to reach PWAs

JOHANNESBURG, 16 September (PLUSNEWS) - People living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda are yet to benefit from drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline's recent announcement of price cuts of up to 40 percent for anti-AIDS drugs in the developing world.

Despite the pharmaceutical company's pledge, the Ugandan government has been unable to obtain key antiretrovirals at the reduced price.

The government has been told by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) officials that it must first purchase the existing stock of the company's ARVs in Uganda "at the previous - and higher - prices, before being able to take advantage of [GlaxoSmithKline's] new ... pricing for developing world countries," said a statement by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, an NGO running free AIDS treatment clinics in Uganda and South Africa.

"GSK is reneging on its commitment to lower AIDS drug prices in Africa, and many people with AIDS - who can't get these life-saving drugs because of GSK's pricing policies - will die," Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, warned in the statement.

Long under fire by AIDS advocates over its drug pricing and policies, GSK announced in April 2003 that it had cut the price of its leading Combivir treatment by 47 percent, to under US $1 a day in poor countries. Combivir, one of GSK's best-selling antiretroviral drugs, is a combination of two ARVs in one tablet.

The move was seen as a sign that the international pharmaceutical industry was bowing to pressure to improve access to treatment in Africa and other parts of the developing world, where HIV/AIDS has hit hardest.

"We are asking GSK to cut through the bureaucracy and make these drugs truly available and affordable in Africa and the developing world," Weinstein added.

A partnership between the ministry of health and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is to kick-start an initiative that will offer ARVs to as many as 10,000 more Ugandans living with HIV/AIDS.

The announcement of the government's commitment to increasing treatment access came at the conclusion of a recent conference on scaling up treatment in the developing world, hosted by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Uganda has an estimated 1.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS, of which 105,000 will need treatment in the next three to four years, according to figures from the Kampala-based Health Rights Action Group (HAG).

According to government figures released in February this year, up to 10,000 HIV-positive Ugandans are currently on treatment. Widely regarded as having successfully lowered the rates of HIV/AIDS infections, the country is now the leading user of ARV drugs on the continent.

[ENDS]

Recent UGANDA Reports

Companies slow to respond to epidemic, 29/Dec/03
Programme launched to boost ARV treatment capacity, 5/Dec/03
New deadline for free anti-retrovirals, 1/Dec/03
Local company undertakes to produce antiretrovirals, 5/Nov/03
Gov't commits to buying generic antiretrovirals, 27/Oct/03

Links

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
AEGIS
The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
Mothers and HIV/AIDS

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

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