#universal #access #HIV #drugs
Nobel Laureates Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Joseph Stiglitz, former President of Malawi Dr. Joyce Banda and former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, and artists Olly Alexander (singer and actor), Stephen Fry (actor, writer, presenter), Adam Lambert (singer/songwriter), David Oyelowo (actor, producer, director) and Arnaud Valois (actor) today joined VIPs from around the world in calling for the price of revolutionary new HIV drugs to be drastically reduced so that can be used all over the world. for all who need them.
Business leaders Mo Ibrahim and Paul Polman are among those who joined the call in an open letter. The letter was released ahead of the International AIDS Conference, which opens in Montreal on July 29. The letter and the list of signatories can be consulted here.
The AIDS pandemic continues to claim lives by the minute and new HIV infections are on the rise in too many communities. This revolutionary long-acting drug only needs to be taken every few months and has been shown to be one of the most effective methods of preventing HIV transmission. In addition to the prevention tool available today, long-acting antiretrovirals could one day help revolutionize treatment to prevent deaths. But these drugs are currently only available in high-income countries at prices in the tens of thousands of dollars, out of reach for people and governments in low- and middle-income countries. The people of these countries are the ones who need it most. These long-acting HIV drugs could protect millions of adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa from HIV. They could allow people from marginalized communities, including gay people, transgender people and sex workers, to get a discreet injection every few months to protect themselves.
“While many people in the north have access to long-acting HIV prevention drugs and tools, Africans are massively denied this opportunity,” said Lilian Mworeko, regional coordinator for the International Community of Women Living with HIV. in East Africa (ICWEA). .
“It’s worse for groups that continue to lag behind, like adolescent girls and young women. As long as the price is unaffordable for our governments and donors, we will continue to be unable to access it. They are essential to prevent new HIV infections and could transform treatment. Our message is simple: all of our lives matter.
As the global response to HIV is strained by the COVID-19 crisis and the war in Ukraine, ensuring rapid, affordable and equitable access to these medicines has become even more urgent. The signatories of the letter stressed that they can and should be available to everyone, regardless of the passport they have or the money in their pocket.
These new drugs offer a chance to avoid the scientific and political mistakes that defined the early years of AIDS. After the first antiretroviral drugs for HIV were approved, prohibitive costs meant they were out of reach for countries in the Global South. Millions died. These failures were not due to scientific or technical limitations. They are the result of conscious choices of organization and financing of medical innovation and access to health tools.
The open letter published today calls on ViiV, one of the world’s largest HIV pharmaceutical companies, to share its technology and expertise to drive production and price to a point where all countries can buy these drugs. . In particular, ask ViiV to address barriers to access by taking the following steps.
Advertise a lower price for the long-acting injectable ARV for prevention, CAB-LA, as close as possible to other HIV prevention drugs (PrEP). The current best PrEP option costs around $60 per person per year. Make the price public and transparent, and include the cost of the accompanying syringe.
Quickly end licenses to produce generic versions of this long-acting ARV through the Drug Patent Pool. Licensed in low- and middle-income countries around the world on a non-exclusive basis, with a broad geographic reach for treatment and prevention.
Share knowledge and technology. Allow producers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and beyond to seek transfers and start producing.
Commit to producing enough to meet demand until generic manufacturers come online.
“It’s up to ViiV to ensure that millions more people around the world can benefit from the incredible technical advances that have been made in this new medicine,” said Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National Aids Trust. “If countries know it’s available at an affordable price, they can make it a priority purchase in their health budgets and make it available to everyone who needs it.”
Taking place in Montreal from July 29 to August 2, the International AIDS Conference provides a historic opportunity for ViiV to join world leaders, civil society and people living with and running HIV. the risk of contracting it worldwide and participate in actions that will save lives and accelerate efforts to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The World Health Organization will issue new guidance on CAB-LA (new medications) at the conference.
“There is a choice as to how new medicines are brought to the global market in terms of availability to everyone, everywhere,” said Dr. Ayoade Alakija, co-chair of the African Union Africa Vaccine Delivery Alliance for COVID. -19. “The limits are less about scientific or technical challenges and much more about how medical innovation and access to health countermeasures are currently organized and funded to favor the rich and reinforce inequalities. The Montreal conference offers leaders who can obtain a visa and travel the opportunity to demonstrate that all lives are equal and that new health tools are accessible to all.
The stakes are high. 40 million people worldwide are now living with HIV and around 1.5 million people were newly infected in 2020 alone.
“This is about inequality,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Will these new drugs help us break down the inequalities that are at the root of the AIDS pandemic, affordable and available to those who need them most? Or will they remain out of your reach? The pharmaceutical industry has an opportunity to make medicines affordable and accessible to people in all countries, including so-called middle-income countries, by sharing technologies and setting an affordable price today until these generics are published online.