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money vs. hiv

Mar 26, 1999

HI. I really like your patience and dedication to all the people who consult this homepage. I live in Panama and there is a terrible battle in court going on because our social security system that is state- run in part( which is mandatory for all workers to pay ..about 7% of your salary and your employer give 3% of your it is more or less 10% of one´s salary) doesnt want to cover the tri-therapy because of economic reasons. There are several private institution of course but NO one offer any kind of coverage if you´ve got it even after many years of paying it....they say we cover any disease .....BUT aids in huge capitalized letters.

Similar court "battles" have been fruitful and hiv-infected people in Argentina, Mexico , Chile, Costa Rica now have access to it....;however, in our country the battle is taking a really long time ( more than 4 years now).

My question is why are those anti-hiv pills so EXPENSIVE.?..and why it is taking to long to have difference companies doing it and making possible to lower the prices via competition...I know that a drug company must make some money since it is a business.... but taking ten years or so to a pantent to expire puzzles me up.

The average treatment costs about 800 a months (just the pills...let alone the tests).....So what can be done for a while..Now they are only offering a azt and certainly it doesnt work by itself. Should a person take azt alone for a while and sit around waiting ( if not agonizing) while the cost of the other pills decrease?

Is still azt alone better than nothing?

I guess that in 20 or 30 years the question wont be : can be AIDS be treated without side effects ?( which most people can NOT tolarate after the third year or so of treatment)But who can pay the treatment or maybe the cure? That certainly will be the question.


Response from Dr. Holodniy

You have touched on several complex issues. Drug development can take over 10 years from the time it is discovered, through test tube experiments, rat and monkey studies, and human trials. On average, this may cost a few hundred million U.S. dollars/drug. In addition with patents, the drug company will be the sole manufacturer/supplier for 10 years or more.Thus, they have incentives to recoup their cost of development and generation of profits to satisfy the share holders. In addition, profit fuels further drug development. In my opinion, AZT alone is probably only slightly better in the short term than no therapy at all. Depending on what stage of disease a person was at, might help me make the decision to treat or not. If somebody was asymptomatic (CD4 >300, viral load < 20,000), I would wait. I one were more advanced, something might be better than nothing in the short term.


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