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Cut price HIV drugs

15th August 2006

15052006_aids1.jpgUnitaid, the drugs purchasing facility for the developing world proposed by President Jacques Chirac, will soon begin buying recently developed Aids drugs from low-cost generic manufacturers. 

Countries supporting Unitaid have agreed to give top priority to purchasing paediatric and second-line anti-retroviral medicines for HIV patients. Cut-price deals, to be finalised later this year with Indian generic drugmakers, could sharply cut prices on "second-line" therapies for patients who have developed resistance to older HIV drugs.

However, the move may trigger clashes with western pharmaceutical companies holding the patents; the efforts will benefit not only low-income countries but also middle-income ones with a high incidence of HIV such as Brazil.

Unitaid will also fund the pre-qualification work of the World Health Organisation, designed to verify the quality of generic manufacturers in the developing world, as well as buy modern drugs for malaria and tuberculosis.

France is hoping to raise $250m a year from an airline levy ranging between €1 per economy ticket within Europe and €40 ($51, £27) for a long-distance business ticket. Brazil, Chile and Norway have pledged a further $100m. The size of UK funding is still under discussion.

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