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Kaitlin Erin Mara: Fighting for Cheaper HIV Meds (Video)

By Warren Tong

August 30, 2013

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that out of the 34 million people living with HIV, about 26 million of them should be on HIV treatment, according to the WHO's latest guidelines. However, only around 8 million people actually are getting treatment, says Kaitlin Erin Mara of the Medicines Patent Pool.

"There's many reasons why people don't have access to treatment, but one of the reasons is that medicines can be very expensive. One of the reasons why medicines can be very expensive is that they are often patented," Mara says in this interview with Fred Schaich of the International Foundation for Alternative Research in AIDS (IFARA).

In this video, Mara explains how patents on drugs work and why generic drugs are needed for people who otherwise can't access treatment. She discusses how her organization helps negotiate licenses for low-cost companies to produce affordable generic HIV drugs.

"Just to give you an example of the dramatic price drop that generic competition can have -- in the late '90s you saw the average cost of an HIV medicine for one person for one year costing about $10,000. That's a lot of money anywhere, but it's especially a lot of money in developing countries. Generic medicine producers started coming on the market and now those same treatment regimens go for as little as $100 per person per year in some countries," Mara says.

The video above has been posted on with permission from our partners at the International Foundation for Alternative Research in AIDS (IFARA). Visit IFARA's website or YouTube channel to watch more video interviews from the conference, as well as earlier meetings.

Warren Tong is the research editor for and

Follow Warren on Twitter: @WarrenAtTheBody.

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