Approximately 76,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Peru,13 but only around 2% of people living with HIV/AIDS have access to ARVs.
The cost of the cheapest available treatment has been US$1,100 per person per year, about the average annual income.
MSF has two HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs in Peru, one in the south of Lima in an urban slum area and another in Lurigancho Prison. To help people with HIV/AIDS get access to lifeprolonging ARVs, MSF also supports "Colectivo Para la Vida" (Collective for Life), a group of Peruvian NGOs and self-help groups working to increase access to essential drugs, including ARVs. MSF aims to introduce ARV therapy in its projects in 2004.
Generic ARVs are progressively entering the Peruvian market and competing with originator drugs, but this is only possible because very few medicines are patented in Peru. Since the revision of the Andean regional legislation to comply with TRIPS, patent applications are now being filed for new medicines entering the market, such as the AZT 3TC combination, marketed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) as CombivirÃ?® in 1998.
Under current legislation in all Andean countries, Peru has recourse if GSK charges a price that is too high. Current rules stipulate that they only need to make a public interest declaration instructing the patent office to grant a compulsory license to other producers that can make the drug at lower prices. Such a simple compulsory licensing system will be impossible under the current FTAA draft.
© Serge Sibert
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A mother brings her daughter who has leishmaniasis for treatment at an MSF health facility in Peru.
13 - Ministry of Health 2001