S.Africa seals record deal for low-cost ARVs: minister

South Africa, home to the world's largest population of people living with HIV, said Thursday it had secured a deal to buy a key anti-retroviral (ARV) drug at the lowest price ever.

The country is the world's largest consumer of the life-saving drugs, at 21 percent of the world market.

Aaron Motsoaledi announced the country had used this massive market share to negotiate a record-low price on a three-in-one, fixed-dose .

The once-a-day tablet will cost patients 89.37 rand a month ($10, eight euros), the minister said.

"This is now the world's lowest price for this product," he said.

"In pursuit of and using innovative methods we have been able to (achieve) a massive saving."

Motsoaledi said the government had awarded a two-year, 5.9-billion-rand ($671-million, 517-million-euro) tender to three for the drug, down from an original cost of 8.1 billion rand.

Aspen Pharmacare, Cipla Medpro and Mylan pharmaceuticals are the three companies that won the tender.

The government plans to expand the treatment to reach 2.5 million people in the next two years. Patients have been taking three pills a day, but the new regimen reduces them to one and the combination has fewer side effects.

South Africa once refused to roll out ARVs under former president Thabo Mbeki, whom activists have condemned as an "AIDS denialist". But the country now has the largest anti-retroviral (ARV) programme in the world, serving 1.7 million of its 5.6 million HIV-positive people.

Demographers reported recently that life expectancy in South Africa had shot up by six years to 60 over the past few years thanks to ARV treatment.

The country has one of the world's highest , at 17.8 percent of 15- to 49-year-olds.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) praised the deal, saying the government had used its negotiating power to buy the fixed-dose combinations at "extremely competitive prices".

Patients "now finally have access to simpler and improved treatment options—which significantly cuts down their daily pill burden from three to five pills down to just one," said Gilles Van Cutsem, the aid group's medical coordinator in South Africa.

Related Stories

S. African to double HIV patient treatment

date Dec 14, 2010

(AP) -- South Africa's health minister says he has brought down the cost of HIV drugs by 53 percent, enabling the government to treat twice as many patients in the next two years.

South Africa unveils plan to halve HIV infections

date Dec 01, 2011

President Jacob Zuma on Thursday unveiled a plan to halve the number of HIV infections over the next five years, cementing South Africa's turnaround from years of deadly denialism.

Recommended for you

Indiana HIV outbreak, hepatitis C epidemic sparks US alert

date Apr 24, 2015

Federal health officials helping to contain an HIV outbreak in Indiana state issued an alert to health departments across the U.S. on Friday, urging them to take steps to identify and track HIV and hepatitis C cases in an ...

Why are HIV survival rates lower in the Deep South than the rest of the US?

date Apr 22, 2015

The Deep South region has become the epicenter of the US HIV epidemic. Despite having only 28% of the total US population, nine states in the Deep South account for nearly 40% of national HIV diagnoses. This region has the highest HIV diagnosis rates and the highest number of people living with HIV of any ...

A bad buzz: Men with HIV need fewer drinks to feel effects

date Apr 20, 2015

Researchers at Yale and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System compared the number of drinks that men with HIV infection, versus those without it, needed to get a buzz. They found that HIV-infected men were more sensitive to ...

Research informs HIV treatment policy for inmates

date Apr 16, 2015

A national, five-year study of care for inmates with HIV brought strangers together, produced policy change in the Delaware Department of Corrections and documented the importance of good communication and ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.