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International News

Thailand to Lend Hand to African Nations With AIDS Drug Technology

May 20, 2002

Thailand, which recently began producing a low-cost, single-pill HIV "drug cocktail," has offered to transfer its AIDS-fighting drug technology to poor developing nations. Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda and Ghana, who have contacted Thailand about the cocktail, will be the first four countries to benefit, Thongchai Thaweechachat, director of the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, said last week.

"We've already signed a memorandum of understanding with Zimbabwe. With the rest, the agreements are starting to take shape," he said. The drug GPO-Vir is a combination of Nevirapine, Stavudine and Lamivudine; all three are antiretroviral drugs that slow down the replication of HIV.

Thailand is only the second country after India to make the cocktail of three drugs originally produced by three Western pharmaceutical companies. The combination differs from Western countries due to patent complications. None of the three companies hold patents on the drugs in Thailand. This allows the drugs to be produced without international legal problems.

According to official estimates, there are nearly 700,000 HIV-infected people in Thailand, 10 percent of them with AIDS. GPO-Vir sells for about one-quarter of what the drugs would cost if purchased separately from their licensed manufacturers.

Thai Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan declared last week at the World Hygiene Association meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, that Thailand was ready to assist any developing nation in need of affordable drugs to fight AIDS.

Back to other CDC news for May 20, 2002

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Adapted from:
Associated Press

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on International Efforts to Combat HIV/AIDS in Africa