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International News

Relief Group Seeks Access to New HIV Drug in Africa

March 16, 2006

On Wednesday, Doctors Without Borders (DWB) called on Abbott Laboratories Inc. to make its new formulation of Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) available in developing countries, especially those in Africa. The new version of Kaletra is in tablet form, can be stored without refrigeration, and has no dietary restrictions.

DWB urged Abbott to register the new formulation in developing nations, price it at less than $500 per patient per year, and remove patent barriers to allow generic versions to be produced. The relief group -- which provides antiretroviral treatment to more than 60,000 patients in nine countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America -- said the new formulation is critically needed because refrigeration is unavailable to many people in impoverished countries.

"It is a cruel irony that although this drug with no need for refrigeration seems to have been designed for places like Nigeria, it is not available here," DWB's Helen Bygrave said at a press conference in Lagos, Nigeria's largest city.

Kaletra is used as a second-line treatment that can be used when standard antiretrovirals are no longer effective in controlling HIV. In 2005, 6 percent of patients who had been receiving ARV treatment for three years from DWB required a switch to second-line drugs, the relief group said. One DWB program found that after four years of standard ARV treatment, 16 percent of patients needed second-line medicines.

On its Web site, Abbott responded by saying it is pursuing registration of Kaletra in developing countries as quickly as possible. "While pricing for the new lopinavir/ritonavir tablet formulation has not yet been established in countries outside the US, Abbott has taken a responsible approach to pricing its HIV medicines and will continue to do so," the company said.

Back to other news for March 16, 2006

Adapted from:
03.15.2006; Tume Ahemba

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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.
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