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Aids Drug Pricing

Coalition's plan to provide generic drugs defies Bush Administration

by Rick Mullin
April 12, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 15

A coalition of organizations with a hand in global health matters announced an agreement last week to assist developing countries in purchasing low-cost generic HIV/AIDS drugs and diagnostics. The plan--viewed as a slap to the Bush Administration--is based on pricing deals with generic drug and diagnostics manufacturers brokered late last year by the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Other partners in the plan are the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria; the World Bank; and UNICEF. Governments and nongovernmental organizations will be able to procure AIDS drugs and tests through these agencies at the agreed-upon prices.

The Clinton Foundation, which is headed by the former president, negotiated prices last October with Cipla, Hetero Drugs, Ranbaxy Laboratories, and Matrix Laboratories, all located in India, as well as with South Africa-based Aspen Pharmacare Holdings. The agreed-upon prices for the coalition cover individual AIDS drug formulations and two- and three-drug single-dose combinations that have been prequalified for use by the World Health Organization (WHO) but have not been approved by FDA.

The Bush Administration, which has committed $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean, has challenged the safety of generic drugs. And it has taken heat on the issue, most recently in March at a conference in Botswana cosponsored by WHO, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

"The Bush Administration should return to the international community and immediately express unequivocal commitment to using fixed-dose combinations and generic drugs," said Njogu Morgan, a spokesperson for the Pan-African Treatment Access Movement.


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