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Caritas condemnation of US attempt to block cheap AIDS treatment

The British Caritas affiliate CAFOD has said attempts by the United States government to force developing countries to use more expensive US approved AIDS drugs in return for aid are totally unacceptable.

CAFOD claims that at a conference in Southern Africa this week the US are trying to discredit cheaper generic drugs and block their use while promoting US approved drugs, which cost over four times the price.

Head of CAFOD's HIV Support Section Monica Dolan said: "The Bush administration is deliberately putting up barriers to developing countries access to AIDS treatment.

"It's vital that countries have access to the most affordable and effective medicines available to fight the growing pandemic, however, the only ones to benefit from this move will be the US drug companies."

CAFOD and 200 other organisations from around the world have denounced the move in a letter to US Global AIDS coordinator Ambassador Randall Tobias.

It condemns the US for trying to discredit the single pill AIDS treatment, know as Fixed-Dose Combination, (FDC) - which is available from as little as $A189 per person per year.

This form of treatment is recommended in World Heath Organisation (WHO) guidelines and several generic FDCs have met the Organisation's stringent international standards for drug quality, safety and efficacy.

The same treatment from brand-name companies costs a minimum of $A751 per person per year and must be taken in the less convenient form of six pills a day.

Monica Dolan said: "This puts extra burden on those taking the pills and more importantly, money used to treat one person using brand named drugs could have treated four.

"Despite the ambitious goals of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS relief and promises of $A19.9 billion for AIDS treatment only 300,000 of the six million people in the world's poorest nations are getting the drugs. This latest move by the US will only add to the crisis."

CAFOD condemns US attempt to block cheap HIV/AIDS treatment (CAFOD 29/3/04)

Role of generic AIDS drugs debated (International Herald Tribune 31/3/04)
Generics Challenge Brand-Name Anti-Aids Drugs (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks/ 30/3/04)
S Africans fight for Aids drugs (BBC 31/3/04)
Fixed-Dose Combination (FDC) Antiretrovirals

32 Apr 2004