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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 11:16 GMT 12:16 UK
Glaxo: Cheap Aids drugs not enough
African aids sufferer
Many Aids sufferers can't afford Glaxo's drugs
Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline will soon be offering cheaper Aids drugs to HIV positive people in Kenya.


We are not solving the problem, [now] other people must do their bit

Glaxo Kenya's commercial director Dr William Kiarie
It is reducing the price of the cocktail of drugs needed by about 80% to $2 a day.

The company admits that this price is still well above what most Kenyans can afford and it will benefit at most 20,000 HIV positive people out of an estimated 2.1 million.

It says that the government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) must also do their bit in providing an infrastructure so that Aids treatments can be successfully administered.

Availability

The cheaper drugs will be made available to companies that provide their employees with healthcare, NGOs that run not-for-profit healthcare services and state agencies such as the military.

drugs
Kenya will soon debate a bill to introduce cheap generic drugs
The Kenyan parliament is due to discuss a bill that could pave the way for the importing of generic drugs.

But GlaxoSmithKline says its move to lower the price of drugs has nothing to do with this.

Neither is it related to the unsuccessful attempt to challenge a similar law in South Africa.

'Cheapest'

Glaxo Kenya's commercial director Dr William Kiarie said the company's prices in Kenya will be cheaper than any generic drug that is available, so importing drugs will not help.

Dr Kiarie admitted that "we have gone through a learning curve as an industry, we now realise that we're not talking about just another disease".

Kenyan Aids activists are reported to have said that GlaxoSmithKline is trying to grab the moral high ground after the negative publicity pharmaceutical companies have received.

Dr Kiarie said that the industry has responded to the recent pressure.

Deflecting criticism from the industry Dr Kiarie said that it is now up to other agencies to boost their efforts.

He said that reducing the drug prices is "not solving the problem, [now] other people must do their bit".

For example, more healthcare professionals need to be trained in HIV diagnosis and informed about how to prescribe the drugs.

Patients must also be educated in how to take the complicated drugs combinations correctly.

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See also:

19 Apr 01 | Health
SA Aids case: The repercussions
03 Feb 01 | Americas
Brazil in US Aids drugs row
02 Jul 99 | Aids
What is Aids?
24 Oct 00 | Aids
Aids drugs factfile
12 May 00 | Africa
Aids initiative 'no magic cure'
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