PAHO lauds 10 Latin America countries for negotiating discounts for HIV drugs

13 June 2003 –

The United Nations World Health Organization's (WHO) regional office for the Americas today praised 10 Latin American countries for successfully negotiating with pharmaceutical companies a price reduction of drugs for HIV/AIDS treatment, saving up to $120 million a year.

"These savings are a demonstration of what can be achieved when governments and the pharmaceutical companies are truly committed to the well-being of the population," said the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Mirta Roses Periago.

Antiretroviral drugs drastically reduce the incidence of opportunistic infections and substantially improve the quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS, but costing $1,000 to $5,000 the regimen is out of reach for the vast majority of developing countries. After the negotiation, prices will fall to between $350 and $690, bringing 150,000 more annual treatments for the 10 countries, PAHO said.

The Ministries of Health of Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay negotiated the agreement in Lima, Peru last week. The negotiations were supported by PAHO, the Andean Health Organism (ORAS) and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

According to PAHO, seven manufacturers of generic antiretrovirals offered the biggest reductions. There also were reductions in the prices of one brand name drug manufacturer, Abbott Laboratories. All the companies meet the quality requirements established by the negotiating countries, which are based on standards outlined by the WHO prequalification process.

The latest negotiations are the third to take place in the Latin American and Caribbean region. An estimated 60 per cent of the people in the developing world under antiretroviral treatment live in that region.

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