Annan pushes AIDS drug makers to lower prices
By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan encouraged
executives from nine drug companies on Monday to lower prices of AIDS medicines
and step up efforts to develop AIDS drugs and diagnostics for children.
Annan for the first time included generic drug makers in his latest in a series
of meetings with top drug makers at U.N. headquarters over the past five years.
The meetings aim to encourage the pharmaceutical firms to broaden access to
AIDS drugs, care and support services in low- and middle-income countries.
While the executives had helped, the AIDS epidemic was "still outpacing our
efforts, and we need to work together in a broad partnership to step up the
response," he said.
At his request, the officials agreed to review the prices of existing and new
HIV medications and diagnostics to make them more affordable, accessible and
appropriate for use in low- and middle-income countries, Annan said.
They also pledged to give greater priority to developing pediatric formulations
of HIV medications and diagnostic tools for children.
Attending the meeting were Stephen Saad, group chief executive of South
Africa's Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd.; Chairman P. V. Ramprasad Reddy of
Indian drug maker Aurobindo Pharma Ltd.; Gary Cohen, executive vice-president
of U.S. firm Becton Dickinson & Co.'s BD Medical unit, and Peter Dolan, chief
executive officer of U.S.-based Bristol-Myers Squibb Co..
Also attending along with Annan and U.N. officials involved in the fight
against AIDS were Jean-Pierre Garnier, chief executive officer of British drug
maker GlaxoSmithKline Plc; B.P.S. Reddy, founder of Indian pharmaceutical firm
Hetero Drugs Ltd.; Christine Poon, vice chairman of U.S.-based Johnson &
Johnson; U.S.-based Merck & Co. Inc. Chief Executive Officer Richard Clark, and
Malvinder Mohan Singh, chief executive officer of India's Ranbaxy Laboratories