Clinton deal lowers HIV drug cost in poor nations
NEW YORK — Agreements between former President Bill Clinton’s foundation and two drug companies will lower prices on medications for patients with drug-resistant HIV in the developing world.
One agreement, with Mylan Inc., lowers the annual price of four antiretroviral drugs that are used as a second line of treatment when patients develop a resistance to the first drugs they are treated with. The other agreement, with Pfizer Inc., reduces the cost of a medication that can be used in conjunction with the drugs in patients who have tuberculosis.
The agreements would help drugs “reach hundreds of thousands more people and save hundreds of thousands of more lives. This is a very big deal,” Clinton said Thursday in announcing the deal.
Clinton said Mylan, through its subsidiary Matrix Laboratories Limited, would bring the annual cost of the antiretroviral drugs atazanavir, ritonavir, tenofovir and lamivudine down to under $500.
Starting in 2010, the pills will be packaged together and sold as something patients can take once a day, for an annual price of $425. The Clinton Foundation said that price is 28 percent lower than the current lowest-priced alternative.
Pfizer will sell the tuberculosis drug rifabutin at $1 per dose, a 60 percent price decrease, or $90 for a full, six-month treatment. Clinton said tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among HIV patients, but interactions between standard tuberculosis treatments and second-line drugs can hamper treatment. Pfizer’s rifabutin does not have the same interactions with the second-line drugs.
Clinton said the drugs would be even more important in coming years, as more people become resistant to the first line of treatment drugs.
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 70 countries. Clinton said more than 2 million people are now receiving AIDS drugs purchased under these pricing agreements.