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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April 2004, 04:00 GMT 05:00 UK
Cheaper Aids drug deal extended
A South African, one of thousands infected with HIV/AIDS.
Drugs to tackle HIV can be expensive
A deal giving cheaper Aids drugs to the developing world is being made available to hundreds of thousands more patients.

Previously available in 16 countries in the Caribbean and Africa, the deal will now cover up to 122 nations.

The agreement is with five drug manufacturers and five firms which make Aids and HIV diagnostic tests.

ActionAid said the move was positive but warned the cost of drugs would still be too high for poor countries.

The price for the most common antiretroviral medicine regime will be as low as $140 per person per year. The previous price was around $300.

We are one step closer to making sure future generations can live without the scourge of Aids
Bill Clinton
The life-sustaining therapy is currently available to just 200,000 of 6m people in developing countries who need it.

The drug costs were negotiated by the Clinton Foundation, set up by former US President Bill Clinton.

They are now being offered to the 122 countries covered by the Global Fund. It is putting US$1.25billion into Aids in those countries over two years and the World Bank and Unicef are also behind the scheme.


Mr Clinton said: "With these agreements, we are one step closer to making sure future generations can live without the scourge of Aids.

"We are hopeful that developing countries and those who support them in the fight against Aids will take full advantage of this agreement and act quickly to do all they can to help in this fight."

Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund, said: "Hundreds of thousands of additional people will receive the drugs they need to stay alive and remain healthy."

ActionAid said people in poor countries had a right to healthcare that can prolong their lives. The prices agreed were the lowest ever, but were still "far beyond the reach individuals and governments in the poorest countries", it said.


Harinder Janjua, its HIV/Aids policy officer, said donor organisations would have to ensure the drugs were provided free to those who needed them.

She said: "By focusing on generic drugs rather than big name brands, it not only means Aids funding is spent most effectively, but also encourages competition to bring down prices of life-saving drugs."

She said the initiative would help meet the World Health Organization target of treating 3m people in need of antiretroviral drugs by 2005.

But Ms Janjua called on Western governments to commit a "fair share" of money to the Global Fund to fight Aids, and other illnesses including TB and malaria.

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