A commonly used AIDS drug appears to nearly double the risk of a heart attack, researchers said Tuesday. In a study published online by the medical journal Lancet, the researchers also said another less frequently used AIDS drug increased the chances of a heart attack by 50 percent.
Health Systems Trust
The National Department of Healths Operational Plan for Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Care Management and Treatment for South Africa, launched in November 2003, emphasises the provision of comprehensive care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS and the need to strengthen the national health system in South Africa.
JSE Securities Exchange listed pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare (APN) has entered into an agreement with the US-based Clinton Foundation for the manufacture of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines. Former US President Bill Clinton announced in New York that his Foundation has reached an agreement with Aspen and selected other leading multinational generic drug manufacturers on a major reduction in the price of HIV/Aids medicine. As a result, it will be easier to make life-saving drugs widely available to people with HIV/Aids in the developing world, Aspen said in a statement on Friday. ARVs supplied by these companies have been certified to be of high quality by the World Health Organisation and the Medicines Control Council of South Africa (MCC). This agreement will allow the delivery of life-saving medicines to people who desperately need them, Clinton said. It represents a big breakthrough in our efforts to begin treatment programmes in places where, until now, there has been virtually no medicine, and therefore no hope. Stephen Saad, Aspen Group Chief Executive said: As Africa's largest generics manufacture, this agreement further endorses the Group's quality manufacturing, scientific and development capabilities, placing Aspen in a league with the leading international generic pharmaceutical manufacturers. Aspen has continually stated its commitment to contributing toward the fight against the HIV/Aids pandemic, and this was recently evidenced by the launch of Aspen Stavudine - the first generic ARV developed and manufactured in Africa, Saad said. This initial ARV demonstrates Aspen's commitment to healthcare in southern African and underlines the scientific and manufacturing capabilities that exist within the country at Aspen's Port Elizabeth based research and production facilities. He added that Aspen is presently in the process of enhancing its manufacturing facilities with the addition of a new multi-million rand oral solid dosage manufacturing facility to service both domestic and offshore markets. The agreement covers ARVs delivered to people in Africa and the Caribbean where the Clinton Foundation is working with governments and organisations to set up country-wide integrated care, treatment and prevention programs. Under the Clinton Foundation agreement, the price of one of the commonly used triple drug therapy combinations will be available for less than US$140 per person per yea - or 36-38 cents per person per day - a reduction of one- third to one-half in the current price of drugs in the developing world, said Clinton. Saad said Aspen's ARV offering should be bolstered shortly by the addition of Didanosine, Lamivudine, Zidovudine, the Lamivudine/Zidovudine combination and Nevirapine which have been submitted to the MCC for registration. These additional licenses were made available to Aspen through arrangements with Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline and Boehringer Ingelheim. As a result of the voluntary licenses secured, Aspen infringes no patent regulations. The Clinton Foundation has been working with the companies on this agreement over the course of the past nine months, focusing on ways to reduce their costs and scale up production of the so-called triple drug cocktails, which can substantially extend the lives of people living with Aids and help prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. ( Source: , Business Day 24 October 2003)
Bristol-Myers Squibb's Southern Africa general manager, Ian Strachan, said the company's two antiretroviral drugs, Zerit and Videx - would be made available at the combined price of $1 a day (about R8 a day) to both the private and public healthcare sectors, starting from Thursday.
This week, US drug giant Bristol-Myers Squibb announced that it is slashing the prices of its HIV/AIDS drugs Zerit and Videx for Africa, and added that it will not object to South Africa licensing imports or producing generic copies of the two drugs, also known as stavudine and didanosine. Makers of generics will have to compete with the below-cost prices Bristol-Myers Squibb said it would now offer all African countries $0,15 a day for Zerit and $0,85 a day for Videx. Zerit costs a patient about $100 a day in the US. Cipla has offered to sell it for $0,20 a day. The Bristol-Myers Squibb offer was greeted coolly by Zackie Achmat of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), the group which lobbies for greater access to medicines by people with HIV/AIDS. Bristol-Myers Squibb should be held accountable for the millions of dollars it had already earned from people with HIV/AIDS, said Achmat. The company had not invented the drugs and had spent almost nothing on their development. He said the TAC was applying for a compulsory licence for the drugs and wondered if this, or a row with Yale University in the US, had forced the firm's hand. There have also been further international developments with other pharmaceutical companies. Most, if not all, pharmaceutical companies involved in the United Nations access initiative on HIV/AIDS medicines have reduced the prices of their drugs significantly recently. The moves by Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and, yesterday, Bristol-Myers Squibb remove price as the largest obstacle in the way of providing the antiretroviral drugs needed for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Roche, which was involved in the programme, has not announced new moves on access to its product used in HIV/AIDS. (Source: Simon Barber, Business Times, 15 March 2001 and Pat Sidley: Business Day, 15 March 2001)
According to Paulo Roberto Teixeira, the head of Brazil's AIDS programme, Brazil had offered - at the AIDS conference in Durban in July - to help South Africa set up the local production of generic HIV/AIDS drugs, but to date there had been no answer from Pretoria.