July 26, 2006
On Tuesday, a Doctors Without Borders clinic in Lagos received the first shipment of a new Kaletra formulation that requires no refrigeration, fewer pills, and does not have to be combined with food. Kaletra is not yet officially registered in Nigeria, but DWB obtained it through special import authorization from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control.
Kaletra, a new version of Abbott Laboratories Inc.'s lopinavir/ritonavir drug, is considered a second-line HIV treatment. DWB has campaigned for Abbott to make it accessible and affordable in poor countries, where the drug's storage, dosing, and food-independent properties are ideal. DWB provides antiretroviral drugs for more than 60,000 HIV/AIDS patients in nine countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. However, second-line treatments are needed as first-line antiretrovirals fail - an emerging problem, according to DWB research.
"We have received our first order for six months," said Gina Bark, DWB's treatment access campaigner. "The number of patients using the drug increases every month, and we expect to be treating around 200 patients by the end of the year at the Lagos clinic."
DWB persuaded Abbott to price its first Kaletra shipment to Nigeria at $500 per patient annually, the price of the older version of the drug. The US price of Kaletra is $9,000 per patient annually.
"It's fantastic and we're really happy, but a lot more needs to be done," said Bark. "We want other stakeholders to put in orders too to put further pressure on Abbott. We want patients to have access to the drug in many places, not just at [DWB's] clinic."