Source AP ©

Clinton Foundation makes deal to lower cost of AIDS drugs

Bill Clinton, former president of the U.S., announced agreement Tuesday with drug companies to decrease the price of AIDS drugs resistant to initial treatments and to make once-a-day pill cost less than $1 daily.

The drugs to battle so-called "second-line" anti-retrovirals are needed by patients who develop a resistance to first-line treatment and currently cost 10 times as much, Clinton said. Nearly half a million patients will require these drugs by 2010.

Clinton's foundation negotiated agreements with generic drug makers Cipla Ltd. and Matrix Laboratories Ltd. that he said would generate an average saving of 25 percent in low-income countries and 50 percent in middle-income countries.

Clinton also announced a reduced price for a once-daily AIDS pill that combines the drugs tenofovir, lamivudine and efavirenz.

He said the new price of $339 (EUR250) per patient per year would be 45 percent lower than the current rate available to low-income countries and 67 percent less than the price available to many middle-income countries

The Clinton Foundation's activities are being financed by UNITAID, an organization formed by France and 19 other nations that have earmarked a small portion of their airline tax revenues for HIV/AIDS programs in developing countries.

UNITAID will provide the foundation with more than$100 million (Ђ73.45 million) to buy second-line medicines for 27 countries through 2008.

"Every person living with HIV deserves access to the most effective medicines, and UNITAID aims to ensure that these are affordable for all developing countries," French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, chairman of UNITAID's board, said in a statement.

Since starting its HIV/AIDS Initiative in 2002, the Clinton Foundation has worked with 25 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia to set up AIDS treatment and prevention programs.

The foundation also provides access to lower-priced AIDS drugs in 65 countries. Some 650,000 people are now receiving AIDS drugs purchased through the Clinton Foundation.

Clinton said Cipla and Matrix collaborated with the foundation to lower production costs in part by securing lower prices for raw materials.

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