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Generic HIV drugs?
Aug 28, 2001

My best friend's HMO is going belly up, and he's having to switch to a crummier group health-insurance plan that has a 2,000/annual max on "brand-name" prescriptions. Do you have any idea when drugs such as AZT, 3TC (he takes combivir) will be available in less-costly generic versions in the US? Some background: My friend has an annual income of under 20K, lives in Illinois, and is in no position to be able to pay GlaxoSmithKline 5000 or more per year on top of his monthly premiums and co-payments. -- Steve Swanson of Chicago. P.S.: Love your Internet site, and got some leads by reading previous answers.

Response from Ms. Donnelly

I'm really sorry to hear about your friend's insurance. His situation is one of the potential problems that face HIV positive people with insurance.

The patent protection on some of the earliest anti-HIV drugs, such as AZT, are up about mid-year 2006. 3TC and Combivir would probably have a later patent expiration date. It would be difficult to give an exact date when a generic version might be available.

However, your friend may be eligible for the Illinios AIDS Drug Assistance Program if his insurance prescription drug benefit is capped. He may also be eligible for pharmaceutical patient assistance programs, which are not the best long term option because of the application process and the frequency of reapplication, but do provide drugs to those who are eligible.

Your friend should probably research his options with a local benefits counselor or case manager. He can get contact numbers for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program from the Access Project at 1-800-734-7104 or He can also call the Project Inform toll-free hotline at 1-800-822-7422 for assistance with contacts and local resources.

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