Gov't commits to buying generic antiretrovirals
Tuesday 29 June 2004
Home About PlusNews Country Profiles News Briefs Special Reports Subscribe Archive IRINnews

Regions

Africa
East Africa
Kenya
Sudan
Tanzania
Uganda
Great Lakes
Horn of Africa
Southern Africa
West Africa
RSSyndication

Features

PlusNews E-mail Subscription

UGANDA: Gov't commits to buying generic antiretrovirals


[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


KAMPALA, 27 October (PLUSNEWS) - The Ugandan health ministry made its first ever clear commitment on Sunday to buying cheap generic copies of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.

"We have a law in place that allows us to import generic drugs in a crisis, and we will certainly be doing this," Health Minister Jim Muhwezi told PlusNews at the 11th conference of the Global Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS, held in the capital, Kampala.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria had already given Uganda about US $52 million specifically for "comprehensive treatment of HIV/AIDS", and was expected to give it another $36 million, he said.

The revelation came after UNAIDS announced at the conference that high-quality generic drugs approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) were about to become cheaper than ever. UNAIDS Chief Executive Officer Ben Plumley told delegates that the Clinton Foundation had recently come to a deal with generic manufacturers to halve the prices it had previously paid for ARVs.

He said bids were now being made for between $120 and $140 for a year's treatment for one person. "The UN is saying this is really welcome, and we implore other drug companies to take similar steps," said Plumley.

He added that the UN had originally set a target of $200 for a year's treatment, which would put "irresistible pressure" on donors to a make a real commitment to supplying treatment. "We are delighted to discover they will now be cheaper than that target price," he said.

But recent progress needed to be taken in the context of a very slow start in sub-Saharan Africa, Plumley added. "We haven't done a very good job to date. Only 1 percent of Africans who need AIDS treatment are getting it at present."

So far, Uganda has been coy about shopping for generic ARVs. Observers say President Yoweri Museveni has been unwilling to upset either the big pharmaceutical companies or the US government, which ever since the Doha declaration of November 2001 has been lobbying hard to prevent countries like Brazil and India from exporting generic ARVs at prices that undercut more expensive, patented products.

"We still think the American companies are right in principle," Museveni said at the conference. "India and Brazil cannot have open-ended rights to produce drugs breaking intellectual property laws."

Nevertheless, Muhwezi said Uganda would now be buying its drugs from generic companies for emergency treatment of Uganda's 1 million people living with AIDS. "The only condition is that they must pass WHO approval standards," Muhwezi told IRIN. "We haven't yet negotiated [a price], but one South African company called Hetro quoted for less than half a dollar per person, per day," he added.



[ENDS]


Recent UGANDA Reports
Distribution of free anti-AIDS drugs begins, 14/Jun/04
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
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.

PARTNERS

PlusNews is produced under the banner of RHAIN, the Southern African Regional HIV/AIDS Information Network. RHAIN's members currently include:

  • UNAIDS
  • IRIN
  • Inter Press Service (IPS)
  • SAfAIDS
  • PANOS
  • Health Systems Trust
  • Health & Development Networks
  • GTZ/Afronets

[Back] [Home Page]

Click to send any feedback, comments or questions you have about IRIN's Website or if you prefer you can send an Email to

The material contained on this Web site comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post any item on this site, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All graphics and Images on this site may not be re-produced without the express permission of the original owner. All materials copyright UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004