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Clinton brokers AIDS drugs deal

Targets a dozen Caribbean nations, four African countries

Former President Clinton said Thursday that the pharmaceutical companies
Former President Clinton said Thursday that the pharmaceutical companies "are acting in good faith" by cutting costs in the affected countries.

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NEW YORK -- Former President Bill Clinton announced Thursday that his foundation and four pharmaceutical companies have reached an agreement to reduce the cost of HIV/AIDS drugs by at least 45 percent in about a dozen Caribbean nations and four African countries.

The cost of anti-retroviral drugs will drop to $140 a year, against the current best rate of $255, Clinton said. The average cost of the medicine will range from 36 to 38 cents a day, he said.

The drugs will be distributed through programs developed by the countries, by donor organizations and by the Clinton Foundation.

Clinton said that the agreement was reached by asking countries to develop a plan detailing the HIV/AIDS resources they desire and the resources they currently have. "The Clinton Foundation filled in the gap," according to Clinton.

He said the pharmaceutical companies "are acting in good faith" by cutting costs and increasing production in the affected countries. In addition to more affordable prices, the plan also provides a guarantee of quality medications, Clinton emphasized.

The manufacturers are Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd., Cipla Ltd., Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, and Matrix Laboratories Ltd.

The anti-retrovirals, or so-called "drug cocktails," currently involved in the plan are standard first-line regimens.

Currently there are programs distributing the lower-priced medication in the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, but the speed of distribution elsewhere depends on how well-equipped the countries are to distribute the drugs.

Other nations involved include members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the African countries of Tanzania, Mozambique, Rwanda and South Africa.

The former president said that in the countries where his foundation is working, he hopes the number of people getting the medicines will to go from less than 50,000 to 2 million in next five years.

Clinton expressed hope that some of the $15 billion of the Bush AIDS initiative would be donated to the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative Drug Consortium. He noted that the Clinton Foundation receives no money from the nations in which it works.

According to current estimates, HIV/AIDS affects 42 million people worldwide. The vast majority of those infected live in developing countries and cannot afford the drug regimen that in the United States can easily cost in excess of $10,000 a year.


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