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MSF plea for new AIDS drugs to be registered and available in Asia

This article is about MSF (Medecins Sans Frontiers aka Doctors Without Borders) claim that American drug manufacturer Abbott Laboratories are allegedly denying patients in Asia access to an improved version of the AIDS drugs lopinavir and ritonavir. These are apparently "important second-line drugs for people who have been on treatement for several years. The new version of the drug has advantages over the old version, including lower pill count, storage without refrigeration, and no dietary restrictions."

[quote]
"According to MSF, high temperatures and regular power failures are making storage and use of the older drug - the only one available - unreliable. And although the UN recently identified India as the country with the highest number of people liviing with HIV/AIDS in the world, the new version of the drug is not for sale."
[/quote]

According to the article, apparently, it's not for sale as it wasn't registered in 'developing countries' and without being registered, it cannot be sold here. The old version of the drug is not even available in China (or the new version) because the drug company has not marketed to this country. Countries such as Thailand which also has high temperatures (30C most of the year) would also benefit from the new version of the drug. The old version of the drug is no longer available to the US market - MSF Thailand rep calls it a "second-best product" and I can understand his point. The drug company IS distributing the new version of the drug in Africa, but it seems that this only happened after a time consuming set of procedures were followed.

I took a look on the MSF website for more info and found a few articles here, here and here but I couldn't find specific information about it's release in India but there was an article about the drugs not being released in Thailand anytime soon so that's bad enough in itself. most of the MSF articles were about African countries. so perhaps India isn't counted as one of the 'developing countries'. still I think if the drugs were not available here and they obviously need to be, then they should be!

Over the last week there have been a couple of articles speaking about AIDS in India - one said that India has the largest population of people outside of Africa infected with HIV/AIDS. I read in one of the Sarai Readers that many people here have not even heard of AIDS so they are trying to educate more people. on the tv the other night was an ad for the Heroes Project in Delhi / India. from their media campaign page :

[quote]
Media Campaign

The Mass Media Campaign seeks to create widespread awareness on HIV/AIDS, promote positive attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS, and influence groups to change high risk behavior that make them vulnerable to the infection. It will use a series of public service announcements (PSA), online and print content, television and radio programming as well as several educational events to do this. In order to best address HIV/AIDS through the various mass media, Heroes Project has developed a strategic communications approach to address diverse groups such as sexually active men, married women and youth across all levels of society.

One of the main objectives during the course of the mass media initiative is to expand and coordinate the campaign with a range of media partners. Areas of association and activities within these partnerships include amongst others:

* Pledging airtime/space for release of PSAs, which will be available rights-free to all.
* Developing original programming formats.
* Incorporation of HIV/AIDS storylines into existing programs such as serials, reality shows and documentaries.
* Support for journalist programs and enhanced news and editorial coverage - employee sensitization.
* Orientation workshops for creative content development.

[/quote]

the UN AIDS website released a report - here's a media summary listing some numbers - http://www.unaids.org has the full report and more info.

from http://www.unaids.org/en/Regions_Countries/default.asp

[quote]
Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa has just over 10% of the world’s population, but is home to more than 60% of all people living with HIV—25.8 million.

In 2005, an estimated 3.2 million people in the region became newly infected, while 2.4 million adults and children died of AIDS.
Asia

In 2005, some 8.3 million people were living with HIV in Asia, including 1.1 million people who became newly infected in the past year. AIDS claimed some 520,000 lives in 2005
[/quote]

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update 10/07/2006

ok, I don't feel as bad now about the decision making policy of the Times newspaper editors on what should be front page news. the front page of the Times International this morning had the article "Latest AIDS treatment is a daily pill" and spoke of the new drug being available in India shortly. I don't think it's the same as the one MSF are referring to, but hopefully it'll be of some help to the people here.