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Hudson White Paper: The Full Cost of HIV/AIDS Treatment: Access to Medicine

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Publication Date: May 2005

Publisher(s): Hudson Institute

Author(s): Jeremiah Norris; Carol Adelman

Funder(s): Hudson Institute

Funder(s): Hudson Institute

Topic: Health (Diseases and disorders)

Type: Other


This is the second edition of a series of White Papers by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Science in Public Policy covering access to AIDS medicines in developing countries. The first paper, Myths and Realities on the Prices of AIDS Drugs, was published in May 2004 to clarify misconceptions about the prices of the most commonly used anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) to treat HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Prior to this, the prevalent view was that the prices of patented ARVs were higher than their copies being manufactured in India and Thailand. The price issue was held out to be a significant barrier to treating poor people in developing countries.

This common perception was not accurate. Of the thirteen comparable ARV drugs listed in Untangling the web of price reductions, 6th Edition by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), eight patented drugs were cheaper than the average copy drug prices. Of the remaining five drugs, only one patented drug, nevirapine, was significantly higher-priced than its equivalent copy drug. The German manufacturer, however, offers this drug free of charge to developing countries for use in their mother-to-child-transmission prevention programs. The first edition also raised other issues concerning patient access and drug prices, particularly the effect of tariffs, customs and duties levied by developing countries as well as the long term costs of using potentially sub-standard medicines.