New survey gives poor countries information on more affordable AIDS drugs
Information released jointly by UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO and MSF
22 June 2002
Copenhagen/Geneva/Paris, 26 June 2002 - An updated survey of ‘Sources and Prices of Selected Drugs and Diagnostics for People Living with HIV/AIDS’ to be released today (June 26) by UNICEF, UNAIDS, WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) will present a list of HIV medicines, test kits and suppliers of AIDS-related products for procurement agencies and countries. The survey fills one of several gaps in efforts to expand access - transparency of information from a range of different products and sources. The updated survey contains 123 pharmaceutical products. Apart from anti-retroviral (ARV) medicines, it includes medicines used to treat a range of opportunistic infections, for pain relief, for use in palliative care, and for the treatment of HIV/AIDS-related cancers. The survey also provides information on a range of HIV/AIDS test kits for initial diagnosis of HIV, and ongoing monitoring of antiretroviral treatment. The UN bulk procurement scheme has resulted in an average US$2 million savings annually. Of the more than 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS today, over 95 per cent live in developing countries. Many of them do not have access to even the basic drugs needed to treat minor ailments, not mentioning HIV-related infections. In many of the poorest countries, essential drugs including painkillers, antibiotics, and tuberculosis drugs are in desperately short supply. Even with significant recent reductions in the prices of many of the drugs needed in HIV/AIDS care and support, especially anti-retroviral drugs, their lack of affordability is one of the main barriers to their availability in developing countries. Where cheaper alternatives exist, many decision-makers do not have the information they need to identify appropriate suppliers for these drugs. The report is based on responses to a questionnaire sent to over 100 pharmaceutical manufacturers world-wide. This year, a record 39 manufacturers from 20 different countries were included in the new report. Managed by UNICEF, the survey counts on the expertise of MSF, UNAIDS and WHO.