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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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