[Ip-health] MSF releases 18th edition of HIV drug pricing and access report, Untangling the Web

Joanna Keenan joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Fri Jul 22 01:36:22 PDT 2016

Médecins Sans Frontières has released the 18th edition of its flagship
report on HIV drug pricing and access, Untangling the Web of Antiretroviral
Price Reductions.

For the report and the drug cards, please visit www.msfaccess.org/utw2016

Press release below:

*MSF report shows price of older HIV drugs decreasing, but salvage regimens
are 18 times more expensive than first-line treatment*

*Trade agreements and pressure on India’s ‘pharmacy of the developing
world’ pose major threats to access*

*Durban, South Africa, 21 July 2016*— The international medical
humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières today released the 18th
edition of its HIV drug pricing report, *Untangling the Web of
Antiretroviral Price Reductions,* at the International AIDS Conference in
Durban, South Africa. The report finds that prices of older HIV drugs
continue to decline, while newer drugs remain largely priced out of reach.
This is in large part because pharmaceutical corporations maintain
monopolies that block price-lowering generic competition.

Today, the lowest available price for a quality-assured, World Health
Organization-recommended first-line one-pill-a-day combination is US$100
per person per year (tenofovir/emtricitabine/efavirenz). This is a decrease
of 26% since MSF last recorded the lowest price for first-line treatment at
$136 in 2014. For a WHO-recommended second-line regimen, the lowest
available price is now $286 per person per year (zidovudine/lamivudine +
atazanavir/ritonavir)—an 11% decrease from $322 two years ago.

These prices continue to fall as a result of robust competition among
generics manufacturers in key producing countries, primarily India. But the
price of newer drugs—needed for people who have run out of other HIV
treatment options—remain high, largely because of patent monopolies held by
drug corporations. The lowest price for salvage treatment today is $1,859
per person per year (raltegravir + darunavir/ritonavir + etravirine). This
is more than 18 times the price of first-line therapy, and more than six
times the price of today’s most affordable second-line combination. The
price for this combination has come down only by seven percent, from $2,006
per year in 2014. These are the lowest global prices, but many countries,
especially ‘middle-income’ countries, pay much higher prices for these
medicines because pharmaceutical patents block them from using generics.

“We have to be able to afford the newer HIV drug combinations that people
will need over time, or else they will have no other options,” said Dr.
Vivian Cox, Medical Referent for MSF’s Eshowe project in South Africa “We
need to be shouting about this now to make sure we don’t end up with
another treatment crisis like the one we faced over a decade ago, when
life-saving medicines were simply priced out of reach for millions of
people who needed them.”

While today the number of people who require salvage therapy is still
relatively small in developing countries, the increased use of
gold-standard viral load treatment monitoring is helping identify more
people who are failing on their first- or second-line treatment and need to
be switched to another set of medicines. Already in MSF’s HIV programmes,
the number of people having moved to second-line therapy has almost doubled
since 2013.

India, the world’s main producer of affordable HIV medicines, is often
called the ‘pharmacy of the developing world.’ More than 97% of the HIV
medicines MSF uses in its treatment programmes are generic medicines from
India. India’s patent law sets a high bar for what deserves a patent. This
allows robust competition among generic producers, which has driven down
first-line HIV treatment prices by 99% -- from $10,000 per person per year
in 2000, to $100 today.

But India is facing immense pressure to roll back its pro-health patent
policies—which put people’s lives over corporate profits—especially from
the United States, backed by its pharmaceutical corporation lobby. Other
countries, such as the EU, along with Japan and South Korea, are preparing
or actively pursuing trade agreements with India that would restrict the
country’s production of affordable medicines in the future. Should India be
forced to change its policies for these trade agreements, it could pose a
serious threat to affordable medicines production in India.

“India is under massive pressure to turn off its tap of affordable
medicines, which are a lifeline to millions of people not only in India,
but across the developing world,” said Leena Menghaney, South Asia Head of
MSF’s Access Campaign. “If India doesn’t stand strong against the
pharmaceutical corporations and governments that are pushing for change in
the country’s patent law and policies, people around the world will face a
crisis in access to medicines in the future.

Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
P: +41 22 849 87 45
M: +41 79 203 13 02
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: @joanna_keenan


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