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International News
Latin American Nations Win Price Cuts on HIV Drugs

June 16, 2003

Negotiations in Lima, Peru have resulted in the health ministers of 10 Latin American countries signing a collective agreement with pharmaceutical manufacturers to reduce the costs of drug treatment for people with HIV/AIDS. The governments negotiated a reduction of up to 72 percent in the price of antiretroviral drugs and up to 60 percent for reactives used in the diagnosis of HIV.

"We have agreed a maximum referential common price for all countries," said the final text signed by public health authorities from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. The price cuts will allow the inclusion of more than 150,000 people who previously had no access to drug therapy. Fernando Carbone, health minister of Peru and president of the meeting, noted that the agreement will permit "the extension of medical coverage, as well as the management of AIDS, in very favorable terms."

A recent survey by the Pan American Health Organization demonstrated that the prices of antiretroviral therapy showed wide regional differences among the countries surveyed, with some nations paying up to 10 times more for the same drug. The new policy -- valid for the next 12 months -- maintains that the drug companies must offer their products at the same maximum price for all 10 countries that signed the agreement. The acquisitions carried out by states will be implemented under local regulations, with each government able to negotiate additional discounts.

The meeting in Peru wrapped up a complex process of over six months of negotiations involving both generic and brand name drug manufacturers. The pharmaceutical companies included in the deal were Abbott, Bayer, Becton Dickinson, Biomerieux, Roche Diagnostics, Richmond, Refasa, Combino Pharm, Ranbaxi, Rontag, Cipla and Filaxis.

As a result of the successful agreement, the health ministers of the 10 countries proposed the launch of a global policy for the negotiation of drug prices.

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Excerpted from:
Reuters Health
06.12.03; Gonzalo Argandona

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