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[e-drug] MSF: New report shows up to 500% price rise for AIDS drugs

E-DRUG: MSF: New report shows up to 500% price rise for AIDS drugs
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New MSF Report Shows Up to 500 Percent Price Rise for Less-toxic WHO 
Recommended First-line Regimen

Sydney, 23 July, 2007 'A new report by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)
shows dramatic price reductions for second-line antiretroviral treatment
over the last year, largely stimulated by a compulsory license issued by
Thailand.  But the report also identifies a worrying trend: using the
newer, less-toxic first-line combination, now recommended by the World
Health Organization, raises the cost for patients by nearly 500%, from
US$99 to up to US$487.  The report 'Untangling the Web of Price Reductions'
was released today by MSF at the 4th International AIDS Society Conference
in Sydney.
'It's encouraging to see the price of second-line regimens finally starting
to come down,' said Karen Day, pharmacist with MSF's Campaign for Access to
Essential Medicines.  'But we are worried that the lack of competition and
dramatically higher prices for the newly-recommended WHO first line could
mean that people in developing countries may not be able to benefit from
improved treatment that has been widely available in wealthy countries for
years.'

An MSF analysis of Brazil and Thailand's efforts at providing universal
access to antiretroviral therapy shows that compulsory licenses have been
far more effective in bringing prices down than negotiating price
reductions with companies or relying on companies' differential pricing
schemes.

In January 2007, Thailand issued a 'compulsory license' to overcome the
patent barrier on the important drug for use in second line,
lopinavir/ritonavir, allowing the country to legally either import the drug
or produce it locally.  'Just one year ago, treating a patient with a
second-line regimen containing lopinavir/ritonavir in Thailand cost $2,800
per year, said Kannikar Kijtiwatchakul, MSF Campaigner in Thailand.' Thanks to 
competition since the compulsory license, treating that same
patient with a second-line regimen will now cost $695 (four times less).
But this is still far too expensive for the majority of people in Thailand,
where the average annual salary is $1,600.'

MSF's experience trying to obtain newer AIDS medicines over the past two
years has shown that significant delays persist between when newer
treatments become available in wealthy countries, and when they become
available in the developing world.

'I work in Sydney and also have been treating patients with AIDS in
countries like Malawi and Mozambique and the gaps I have witnessed are
alarming,' said Dr Alexandra Calmy, HIV/AIDS Advisor for MSF's Campaign for
Access to Essential Medicines.  “At this conference in Sydney, we're seeing 
presentations on several promising drugs.  These drugs should be available in 
Africa, Asia and Latin America at the same time as they are marketed in rich 
countries, not only after years of fighting for access to them. This means 
including the needs of people living in developing countries into the R&D plans 
from the beginning.'

MSF is an independent, international medical humanitarian organization that
currently provides antiretroviral treatment to more than 100,000 patients
in over 30 countries, including to over 7,000 children.  MSF has been
caring for people living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries since the
mid 1990s, and first began providing antiretroviral treatment in 2000 in
Thailand and South Africa.

Contact:    Sheila Shettle:   043.943.2436 or  +41.79.293.0270
            James Nichols:    040.752.5700

+++++++++++++++++++++
Sheila Shettle
Senior Communications Officer
Medecins Sans Frontieres
Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines
Rue de Lausanne 78
1211 Geneva, Switzerland
+ 41.22.849.8403
+ 41.79.293.0270 (m.)
www.accessmed-msf.org
+++++++++++++++++++++++
SIGN MSF'S 'DROP THE CASE' PETITION

Millions of people around the world today rely on affordable medicines
produced in India.  Pharmaceutical company Novartis is taking the Indian
government to court to force a change in the country's patent law.  If
Novartis wins, a major source of affordable medicines for millions of
people across the globe could dry up.

MSF is urging Novartis to DROP THE CASE.

Find out more and sign up to our petition:
http://www.msf.org/petition_india/international.html

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