BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Chinese Vietnamese Burmese Thai Indonesian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Asia-Pacific  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Friday, 16 August, 2002, 06:10 GMT 07:10 UK
China to get cheaper Aids drug
Chinese woman looks at a display at a sex education exhibition in Beijing
Experts want more work done preventing Aids/HIV

A Chinese pharmaceutical company says it hopes to make available a Chinese-made version of the anti-Aids drug AZT as early as next month.

The company, North East Pharmaceutical Group, says the product is likely to cost about a tenth of the price of imported drugs.

But doctors say even that is likely to be too expensive for the majority of China's HIV/Aids patients.



Chinese health authorities estimate that there are more than one million HIV positive people in the country.

But the true numbers are almost impossible to arrive at because many are on the margins of society - drug users, prostitutes and villagers infected by tainted blood products.

For the vast majority, the cost of imported drugs - which sell for $200-300 a month - is well out of reach.

Still expensive

The company which has for the first time been given a green light to market a Chinese-made version of AZT domestically is actually already making the drug for export.

But the release of the product at home may have got bogged down in the politics of China's entry into the World Trade Organisation.

The Chinese-made drug will sell for about one-tenth of the cost of foreign equivalents.

Doctors say that will help some sufferers, even though the drug on its own is unlikely to be as effective as the cocktail of medication available to many patients in developed countries.

But for the majority of China's HIV/Aids patients, even the domestically produced drug is likely to be too expensive.

Aids experts say there is all the more need to focus on preventive work. But even in big cities such as Shanghai, political sensitivities continue to get in the way of such ideas as promoting safer sex.

And while Chinese experts have begun to study needle exchange projects for drug users in countries like Australia, authorities have yet to approve such practices in China itself.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Francis Markus
"The Chinese-made drug will sell for about a tenth of the cost of foreign equivalents"
Senator Mechai Viravaidya, former Cabinet minister
"It's not possible for China to export it to other countries"
Lyndall Stein, ActionAid
"It's excellent news but we have to see it in the context of what else needs to be done"

Key stories

Case studies

Background

CLICKABLE GUIDE

TALKING POINT

FORUM
See also:

27 Jun 02 | Asia-Pacific
16 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
13 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
11 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
23 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
05 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes