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AIDS drug prices drop sharply but unevenly in Latin America and Caribbean

AIDS drug prices drop sharply but unevenly in Latin America and Caribbean

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announced today that the price of drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS dropped dramatically last year in Latin America and the Caribbean, as a result of agreements between health ministries and drug companies.

In its study of prices between May 2001 and May 2002, PAHO found wide differences among the 14 countries surveyed. For example, the cost of one common antiretroviral therapy dropped from around $21,500 to $1,600 in Haiti. In Brazil, another common therapy dropped from $1,400 to $635 - the lowest in the region - while some countries were paying more than $6,000 for the same treatment.

Nevertheless, the price of the two main drug combinations dropped 25 per cent and 54 per cent respectively, to between $2,500 and $2,750. And information provided to PAHO since the survey indicate a further drop, with some countries now able to provide drugs to AIDS patients for around $1,100 a year.

Even with greatly reduced prices however, many countries cannot afford to provide antiretroviral drugs to all in need. Out of at least 475,000 people in need in the region, only 170,000 currently have access to the drugs – mostly in Brazil. And the incidence of infection continues to increase.

PAHO, established in 1902, is the oldest health organization in the world, and serves as the regional office for the Americas of the UN World Health Organization (WHO). In the framework of the WHO/UNAIDS Accelerated Access Initiative, it is working to help countries increase their access to comprehensive HIV care and support.