Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

GlaxoSmithKline, under Pressure, Cuts Price of AIDS Treatment for Poor Countries. (News)

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

GlaxoSmithKline, under Pressure, Cuts Price of AIDS Treatment for Poor Countries. (News)

Article excerpt

Under political pressure and pending lawsuits in the United States, British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc announced on 28 April that it was cutting the price of its leading Combivir treatment for people with HIV/AIDS in poor countries by 47% to 90 US cents a day.

Richard Feacham, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria said it was "another step" towards improving access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs in Africa and other parts of the developing world that are worst affected by AIDS. "This must be matched by increased resources to finance the purchase of medications," he said.

Glaxo, the world's largest manufacturer of HIV/AIDS drugs, said it had also cut the price of Combivir's two component drugs when sold separately: Epivir (3TC) by 45% to 35 cents a day and Retrovir (AZT) by 38% to 75 cents a day. These are available to 63 of the world's poorest countries, including all of sub-Saharan Africa. This is the second cut in the price of Combivir since it was reduced to US$ 1.70 a day in September 2002, and the company says it is a result of reducing manufacturing costs.

The cut brings Glaxo's pricing closer to that of generic drug companies, and will be a blow to those that stood to gain from a trade agreement to make cheap life-saving drugs available to poor countries--an agreement that was due to be finalized in December but has been stalled for months. The deal is now expected to be agreed at the next World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in the Mexican city of Cancun in September. It would allow poor countries facing a public health crisis, such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, to issue a compulsory licence to generic drugs companies to produce affordable versions of a patented drug.

Companies such as Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd of India have already dented Glaxo's market. The Indian company offers a WHO-approved version of Combivir, known as Zidovudine (AZT) and Lamivudine (3TC) for less, at 73 US cents a day. …

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