Patents making new AIDS drugs expensive, MSF says

July 2, 2013

New potentially life-saving HIV drugs are "beyond reach" due to restrictive patents, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Tuesday, even though basic medication for the disease has become cheaper.

The international medical humanitarian organisation said it was good news that the price of drugs used as first- and second-line treatments had fallen by 19 and 28 percent respectively since last year.

But "salvage regimens"—drugs used as a last resort after these first two steps fail—cost 15 times as much as first-line medicines, according to an MSF statement at the International AIDS Society conference in the Malaysian capital.

"Patents keep them priced beyond reach. We need to watch carefully as newer, better medicines reach the market in the coming years, as these are the drugs that we'll quickly be needing to roll out. The price question is far from resolved," said Jennifer Cohn, medical director at MSF's Access Campaign.

According to MSF, first-line treatment—which has the highest efficacy against a low side-effect profile—can cost as little as $139 per person per year, down from $172.

It cited as the main factor in the price drop, which had also made second-line drugs available for as low as $303 per year.

But MSF said its research found the best price for a possible salvage regimen was $2,006 per year in the , while some like Armenia pay $13,213 just for one of the three or four drugs needed for a full regimen.

"Scaling up HIV treatment and sustaining people on treatment for life will depend on bringing the price of newer drugs down," said Arax Bozadjian, HIV at MSF's Access Campaign.

The group called for wider "patent opposition", claiming that a seven-year battle against Swiss Novartis, was key to falling prices of first- and second-line regimens. Novartis were finally refused a patent this April in generics-producing India.

"When patents prevent access, compulsory licences should be issued (to other drugmakers) in the interest of public health," it added.

The United Nations says 34 million people globally were living with HIV in 2011, with 2.5 million people newly infected that year alone.

In total, the global pandemic has claimed 30 million lives.

Explore further: India patent case threatens cheap drug supply: MSF

Related Stories

India patent case threatens cheap drug supply: MSF

September 5, 2011

Supply of cheap, copycat drugs for the developing world could be badly threatened if Swiss firm Novartis wins a challenge to India's patent law, medical charity MSF said on Monday.

NGOs protest Novartis' Glivec patent quest in India

February 23, 2012

Several NGOs protested Thursday at the annual meeting of Novartis against the attempt by the Swiss pharmaceutical group's India company to obtain a patent for its anti-cancer drug Glivec.

India rejects Bayer plea against cheap cancer drug (Update)

March 5, 2013

India's patent appeals office has rejected Bayer AG's plea to stop the production of a cheaper generic version of a patented cancer drug in a ruling that health groups say is an important precedent for getting inexpensive ...

Measles epidemic sweeps northern Syria

June 18, 2013

An epidemic of measles is sweeping through parts of northern Syria, with at least 7,000 people affected because the ongoing civil war has disrupted vaccination programmes, Doctors Without Borders said on Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Targeting HIV in semen to shut down AIDS

August 18, 2015

There may be two new ways to fight AIDS—using a heat shock protein or a small molecule - to attack fibrils in semen associated with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during the initial phases of infection, according ...

Vitamin D status related to immune response to HIV-1

June 15, 2015

Vitamin D plays an important part in the human immune response and deficiency can leave individuals less able to fight infections like HIV-1. Now an international team of researchers has found that high-dose vitamin D supplementation ...

HVTN 505 vaccine induced antibodies nonspecific for HIV

July 30, 2015

A study by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Duke University helps explain why the candidate vaccine used in the HVTN 505 clinical trial was not protective against HIV infection ...

Why HIV's cloak has a long tail

June 2, 2015

Virologists at Emory University School of Medicine, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta have uncovered a critical detail explaining how HIV assembles its infectious yet stealthy clothing.

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sinister1811
1 / 5 (2) Jul 02, 2013
It's a money grubbing system! I am disappointed that in today's world, its all about making money from people's sicknesses and ailments, rather than restoring human health and changing lives. And can you believe they wanted to patent genes too?
jmatulonis
not rated yet Jul 02, 2013
Yup this government is corrupt.
The CDC /IDSA receives kickbacks from Lyme disease testing companies.
Keep people sick and there pockets stay full..

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.