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International News

Caribbean Officials Say New Deal for Cheaper HIV/AIDS Drugs Will Help Region-Wide Effort

July 22, 2002

Caribbean leaders at the 14th International AIDS Conference sealed an accord with six pharmaceutical companies that clears the way for cheaper antiretroviral drugs, health officials said. Prices for the drugs in the Caribbean could now be up to 90 percent lower than previous rates, officials said. The six companies committing to lower prices include GlaxoSmithKline of Britain, Hoffman-La Roche AG of Switzerland, Boehringer Ingelheim of Germany and the US firms Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Merck & Co. and Abbott Laboratories, Caribbean officials said.

"The increased availability of the antiretrovirals will mean many more people will be inclined to come forward early and be tested, as there is now hope that medication will be available and they don't have to get sick," said Catherine Williams, of Trinidad's Community Action Resource Center, which assists patients with HIV.

Abbott said that its position "is to ensure access to our HIV products to as many people as possible in a manner that is responsible and sustainable." Dr. Bilali Camara, a technical medical advisor to the group that negotiated the deal for the Caribbean, said he was disappointed that the price cuts were calculated based on the ability to pay in Jamaica instead of in poorer countries such as Guyana and Haiti. "If Guyana and Haiti were used as the baseline models, it would have meant a 95 to 97 percent reduction similar to that being enjoyed by Uganda," Camara said.

Nevertheless, Camara applauded the effort by Caribbean leaders to secure the agreement. He said the lower-priced antiretroviral drugs should be available by June 2003. The governments of Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago already had struck bilateral agreements with drug makers. Camara said regional health officials will establish centers in Trinidad, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Barbados to train medical staff to counsel those taking the drugs.

Back to other CDC news for July 22, 2002

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Adapted from:
Associated Press
07.12.02; Tony Fraser

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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 Generic/Discount HIV Drug Access in the Developing World