NEW YORK - Former President Bill Clinton yesterday announced agreements between his foundation and drug companies to lower the price of so-called second-line AIDS drugs for people in the developing world and to make a once-a-day AIDS pill available for less than $1 a day.
The antiretrovirals are needed by patients who develop resistance to first-line treatment. They now cost 10 times as much as first-line therapy, Clinton said. Nearly half a million patients will require these drugs by 2010.
"No company will live or die because of high-price premiums for AIDS drugs in middle-income countries, but patients may," Clinton said yesterday.
"I believe in intellectual property and ensuring that manufacturers earn the profit margins they need to keep the discovery and supply of AIDS drugs sustainable," he said. "But that shouldn't prevent us from getting essential lifesaving medicines to those who need them."
The William J. Clinton Foundation negotiated pacts with generic drugmakers Cipla Ltd. and Matrix Laboratories Ltd. that he said would mean savings that average 25 percent in low-income countries and 50 percent in middle-income countries. He said the companies worked with the foundation to lower production costs, in part by securing lower prices for raw materials.
The reduced-price, once-daily pill combines the drugs tenofovir, lamivudine and efavirenz.
Clinton said the new price of $339 per patient per year would be 45 percent lower than the rate now available to low-income countries and 67 percent less than in many middle-income countries.
The Clinton foundation's activities are being financed by UNITAID, an organization formed by France and 19 other nations that have earmarked a small part of their airline-tax revenues for HIV/AIDS programs in developing countries.