Skip to main content

Developing Countries: HIV Infection

Volume 460: debated on Thursday 17 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made in making cheaper HIV/Aids drugs available to developing nations. (137465)

There has been progress in driving down the prices of HIV/AIDS drugs in a number of ways. Competition between multiple producers is leading to significant falls in the prices of some first-line Antiretrovirals (ARVs). The work of UNITAID, trade measures, research and improved transparency around pricing in developing countries, are also combining to bring down prices and improve access.

DFID is supporting UNITAID, the international drug purchasing facility established in late 2006. UNITAID has already approved several significant expenditures, including $61.7 million for paediatric anti-retroviral therapy (ART), $70 million for second line ART and $52.5m for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. We hope that UNITAID will contribute to the necessary reductions in the prices of second-line drugs such as Viread and Kaletra.

UNITAID and the Clinton Foundation recently announced a major cut in the price of 16 ARV formulations which will be available to 66 developing countries. UNITAID has committed over $120 million in 2007 and 2008 to this programme, and the Clinton Foundation has negotiated price reductions on average between 25 per cent. and 50 per cent.

DFID and other Whitehall Departments have worked with the EU and World Trade Organisation (WTO) member states, to ensure that developing countries have the necessary flexibilities in the WTO Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement to safeguard their pressing public health needs. TRIPS now allows countries without manufacturing capacity to issue compulsory licences to import generic copies of patented medicines. The EU is taking steps to implement legislation transposing this agreement into European law. We have funded several programmes including pilot projects in Kenya and Botswana to help them implement legislation allowing them to use TRIPS flexibilities.

The UK is also involved with others in research, largely through public private partnerships including the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), and recently launched an international Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA) to focus on price, quality and availability of medicines across the supply chain in-country. MeTA builds on the existing efforts of developing country, donor, World Health Organisation, other multilateral and civil society partners to strengthen national procurement and supply systems, and to tackle corruption.