Former US President Bill Clinton has announced agreements with drug companies to lower the price of so-called “second-line” Aids drugs for people in the developing world.
A once-a-day Aids pill will be made available for less than 75c a day.
The anti-retroviral drugs are needed by patients who develop resistance to first-line treatment and currently cost 10 times as much as first-line therapy, Mr Clinton said in New York.
Nearly half a million patients will require these drugs by 2010.
“No company will live or die because of high price premiums for Aids drugs in middle-income countries, but patients may,” Mr Clinton said.
“I believe in intellectual property and ensuring that manufacturers earn the profit margins they need to keep the discovery and supply of Aids drugs sustainable. But that shouldn’t prevent us from getting essential life-saving medicines to those who need them in low and middle-income countries alike,” he said.
Mr Clinton’s foundation negotiated agreements with generic drug makers Cipla and Matrix Laboratories that he said would mean an average savings of 25 per cent in low-income countries and 50 per cent in middle-income countries. He said the companies collaborated with the foundation to lower production costs, in part by securing lower prices for raw materials.
The reduced-price, once-daily pill combines the drugs tenofovir, lamivudine and efavirenz.
“Seven million people in the developing world are in need of treatment for HIV/Aids,” Mr Clinton said. “We are trying to meet that need with the best medicine available today, and at prices that low and middle-income countries can afford.”
The Clinton Foundation’s activities are being financed by UNITAID, an organisation formed by France and 19 other nations that have earmarked a small portion of their airline tax revenues for HIV/Aids programmes in developing countries.
UNITAID will provide the foundation with more than €73m to buy second-line medicines for 27 countries through 2008.
“Every person living with HIV deserves access to the most effective medicines, and UNITAID aims to ensure that these are affordable for all developing countries,” French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, chairman of UNITAID’s board, said in a statement.
Since starting its HIV/Aids Initiative in 2002, the Clinton Foundation has worked with 25 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia to set up AIDS treatment and prevention programmes.
The foundation also provides access to lower-priced Aids drugs in 65 countries.
Some 750,000 people are now receiving AIDS drugs purchased through the Clinton Foundation.