Foundation of the Present.
A roundtable on comprehensive HIV/AIDS access to care and treatment in Africa was convened this week to help bring to life the UN-Pharmaceutical initiative announced May 11th. African Governments seeking to procure affordable HIV/AIDS treatments and diagnostic products were invited by multinational pharmaceuticals to enter into negotiations. Representatives from Uganda stated their intent to include antiretroviral treatment within their public health standards, regardless of current uncertainties in infrastructure, placing the onus back on the developed world to take the 'next' step.
Although health infrastructure is a basic requirement, it was strongly felt that differential pricing (meaning that the same manufacturer offers the same drug at different price in developing countries than in developed countries) is the most important, and maybe the only way to get orders of magnitude price reductions to broaden HIV/AIDS care and treatment. Accordingly, the executive Director of UNAIDS, Dr. Peter Piot, said that he first saw a solution when Sir Sykes offered the possibility of such differential pricing for Glaxo Wellcome s products.
While details of specific products and their costs were not made public at the meeting, Dr. Joseph Perriens from UNAIDS expressed his concern that if price quotes are not made available by the time of the Durban World AIDS Conference there will be trouble .
Brazil s pharmaceutical manufacturer Far-Manguinhos (Brazilian Ministry of Health) affirmed its interest to be an exporter of HIV/AIDS drugs and technology to African nations. Brazil provides HIV treatments to its population at far less than global market prices through local manufacturing, bulk purchasing and off-patent drugs. Indian generic manufacturer, Reddy s Lab, stated its intention to seek opportunities to help further reduce the costs of locally produced HIV therapies in India.
Participants recognized the importance of developing specific HIV/AIDS treatment access plans in compliance with Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and other UN bodies are working to bring together the Ministries of Health and Ministries dealing with intellectual property to address this issue in a practical, hands-on fashion in their respective countries. A meeting is scheduled on June 30 in Geneva where these matters will be discussed.
Participants included the five pharmaceutical manufacturers involved in the announcement (Merck, Hoffman-La Roche, Boehringer, Glaxo Wellcome, Bristol Meyer Squibb), UN agencies (UNAIDS, WHO, WIPO, WTO) African (Cote d Ivoire, Namibia, Uganda and South Africa) and Brazilian government representatives, national and international NGOs, and the private sector. Noticeably absent were the leading donor representatives of the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the US Government, and the European Union.
The Roundtable Meeting on HIV-AIDS Treatment Access Consensus held in Geneva, June 19-20, 2000, was organized by the Fondation du Present in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and with support from the Ford Foundation. The meeting was held at the offices of WIPO and proceedings will be available through the Internet.
http://www.fdg.orgFoundation for Present