News / Africa

Cheaper Drugs Allow Better Treatment of HIV/AIDS Patients

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, M.D. (Brookings)U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, M.D. (Brookings)
x
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, M.D. (Brookings)
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, M.D. (Brookings)
Joe DeCapua
PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, is responsible for getting millions of people on treatment. But researchers say it was not until the program started using cheaper generic drugs that great strides were made against the epidemic.

PEPFAR is considered one of the hallmarks of President George W. Bush’s time in office. Its goal was to transform HIV/AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable chronic disease. And for millions of people around the world, that’s now the case as the program continues under President Obama.



However, Dr. Kartik Venkatesh said when PEPFAR began it was hampered by the high cost of brand name antiretroviral drugs.

“Early on, PEPFAR wasn’t able to reach nearly as many individuals because if the proprietary versions of these drugs were going to be used, simply, with the limited budget only so many could be reached. However, [in] the real success of PEPFAR, a significant factor has been the procurement and use of generic drugs,” he said.

Venkatesh is the lead author of a study by Brown University researchers on the success of PEPFAR.

He said, “The question was if we’re providing patented drugs to American patients, we should be providing the same drugs internationally to HIV-infected patients because it’s U.S. taxpayer dollars. One could say there were multiple reasons why that was the case. Certainly some would also speculate that the pharmaceutical industry did have a vested interest perhaps. But in the end it was a matter of that these generic drugs were known to work.”

And they were known to work about the time PEPFAR was launched in 2003. Using generics dropped PEPFAR’s cost of treating a person from about $1,100 per year to about $300 in 2005.

“Both the U.S. government and American taxpayers are getting more bang for their buck. And [for] a lot of developing countries, that certainly means more money gets to be spent on other healthcare services, other than just putting money into treatment and drugs,” said Venkatesh.

PEPFAR has also been able to save millions of dollars by reducing transport costs – using ships instead of planes to deliver the drugs.

The PEPFAR model, said Venkatesh, could also be applied to other diseases as developing countries begin seeing what had been mostly rich nation diseases.

“There is a move towards understanding that the real and perhaps potentially larger burden in the future is also going to be chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer. And those are also diseases that require chronic, long-term medication. A lot can be learned from the experience about accessing generics for the treatment of HIV,” he said.

The Brown University study recommended that a regulatory framework be in place for the “efficient and transparent procurement of generic drugs.” This would include the U.S. government, the Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization and generic drug manufacturers.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More