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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 11:31 GMT
Cheap Aids drugs: Is this the way forward?
Esther Babalola waits for batch of US donated Aids drugs, Nigeria.
Former US President Bill Clinton has brokered a deal to supply cut-price Aids drugs to developing countries.

An agreement was reached with four generic drug companies in India and South Africa to provide certain treatments at less than a third of the cost of patented versions.

Nine countries in the Caribbean, as well as Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania will receive the low-cost medication.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:

Calls for cheap HIV drugs in developing countries are entirely understandable
David, Birmingham

Calls for cheap HIV drugs in developing countries are entirely understandable.

However, such drugs require regular monitoring to ensure they are working properly and must be taken every day exactly as prescribed; otherwise the patient will become resistant to them.

The regular tests are expensive and require complex diagnostic technology that is simply unavailable to many in developing countries. Guaranteeing access to tests and a regular supply of drugs, especially in rural areas requires a far better infrastructure than most developing countries currently enjoy.

It would be catastrophic if we diverted resources away from prevention only to find we were spending all our resources on drugs which the patients were becoming resistant to, especially if they ended up transmitting viral strains that don't respond to the HIV drugs to other people.
David, Birmingham, UK

The availability of cheaper drugs to fight the disease is welcomed. But that alone cannot solve the problem. I feel that, instead, people might be more promiscuous knowing there are drugs for it. What we really need to do as individuals and countries is to learn and educate more on the mode of transmission, dangers of the disease and its effect on our lives and the nation as a whole.
Akwesi Afrifa, Ghana

We have to remember that someone has to develop the drugs in the first place
Graeme Phillips, Berlin

It is all very well saying that all people should have drugs at an affordable price or free, but we have to remember that someone has to develop the drugs in the first place. If investors anticipate that someone will infringe the copyright protection afforded to the drugs, they will not invest money, meaning than new and better drugs will not be developed.

My suggestion is that the hypocritical people in the West whinging about the greed of the drug companies should dig deep into their pockets and pay what the drug companies are asking for, so that people in the developing world can have the drugs.
Graeme Phillips, Berlin, Germany(UK)

With Aids figures at record high, cheaper drugs must be the only way forward.
Jack, London

These greedy drug companies make me sick. I know how much money and time it takes to develop a new drug, but look me in the eye and tell me that you haven't already made a huge fortune on the HIV combating drugs. Those fortunes came from overcharging health insurance companies for the treatments. Now it's time for us to give back a little and help some of the neediest people in the world.
Tim, USA (expat)

Surely prevention is better than only looking at treatment?
Claire Herbert, London

Surely prevention is better than only looking at treatment? Money should also be put into education and prevention of HIV/Aids as well as helping those already infected with these cut price drugs.
Claire Herbert, London

Free drugs is the way forward
Mr Brooks, UK

No, free drugs is the way forward. It is a question of ethics and strength. In other words, are your ethics strong enough for you to actually feel the need in the poorer nations for much more than drugs to treat them? Are you strong enough to overcome your desire for profit over human life? Only those who can answer yes on two counts will provide a solution that lasts. The rest are just words, even if they are politically correct.
Mr Brooks, UK

This is definitely a step in the right direction. What the rich nations ignored all along, is being addressed now by the efforts of Bill Clinton. The immediate benefit would be in prolonging the lives of the millions affected. Of course all this will not really mean much if the underlying ignorance and poverty are not addressed. This will not happen overnight, hence Clinton's efforts are a welcome interim measure.
Uday Hiremath, New York, USA

I think in the arena of Aids especially in Africa the drug companies are in it for the dollar! Even with lower costs, I believe that the average African won't be able to afford the drugs and most African nations already are struggling to repay the World Bank. So how will these countries be able to support the exponible growth of the Aids population in their country? They won't, its as simple as that. What is needed is some service to others. Have those companies give the drugs to those countries for FREE! Let them choose to be givers not takers.
A Alexander, Estes Park, USA

Cheap Aids drugs are a good idea, however because of the cost, they will always be beyond the reach of many Africans. Herbs, on the other hand are an even better idea. They are much cheaper and sometimes more effective.
Nelima, Kenyan in US

Most of the key research leading to retrovirals for HIV was publicly funded (for example, stavudine, marketed as Zerit, and used in triple therapy, was developed at Yale University). Pharmaceutical companies spend far more on marketing than on research in the generally understood sense. Those who believe that cheap drugs for the poor would mean no more new drugs have simply swallowed their poisonous propaganda.
Nick Gotts, Aberdeen, Scotland

Cutting the costs of the drugs will help the poorer, developing countries. However, I think that the medicines may not necessarily work, even if prices of the medicines are cut down. Money isn't everything.
Kuan Yee, Singapore

Free condoms, more education and cheaper drugs
James, Scotland
I have to agree that cheaper medication would help but would not solve the problem. Education is not working obviously as the level of HIV and thus Aids is still increasing. The government in severely affected countries needs to come up with a solution for this problem whatever that may be - free condoms, more education and cheaper drugs.
James, Scotland

We must get around a misconception here; anti-retroviral drugs are not a cure for Aids. They slow (not prevent) the development of HIV into the ultimately fatal Aids. This "cure" is no alternative to prevention at all. Until the underlying causes of infection are dealt with, this is a stay of execution at best for Aids in Africa.
Damian Leach, UK

Cheap drugs will not be the means to any way forward; Education will! If someone contracted the Aids virus by accident (who's fault was certainly not the victim) then the authority who was responsible for them contracting it should keep the victims family financially stable for good! And pay compensation! If however the patient has contracted the virus through drug abuse or excessive sexual behaviour, then why should they be given cheap medication?
Nicholas Charles Mcphee, Macclesfield, UK

A better understanding of the culture of these countries is needed to better understand the Aids problem
Richard, San Diego, USA
It is all well and good people saying that a change in education is required in developing countries to prevent the spread of Aids, but we are not taking into account the cultural differences and the stigma currently associated with being infected. A better understanding of the culture of these countries is needed to better understand the Aids problem before anyone can suggest how to put it right. It appears a little naive of us to suggest simple solutions in the absence of this deeper understanding. The current Western drug cocktail is too expensive and some help needs to be given to the countries that are worst affected.
Richard, San Diego, USA

Cheap drugs will have no real impact Aids is completely preventable, but the third world and the poor and uneducated in the first refuse to change their ways this is what happens if you ignore reality.
Robmhill, USA

Certainly drugs companies need some incentive to continue their work. But Pfizer's $9.2 billion profits are greater than the GDP of many African countries. And who needs an incentive of that size to produce something that can improve the lives of millions of people?

Come on people. Market forces are such that to make high end efficient drugs you have to have high quality plant and systems in place. To achieve that you have to spend money. You also have to adhere totally to a huge number of regulations as laid down by any number of regulatory authorities, the FDA and MRHA just two. With the best will in the world, producing these drugs in the 'third world' will not give you the quality unless you move the plant and resources lock stock to that country, with all the associated requirements such as quality water and intermediates. I would dearly love to be writing something different but knowing the business as I do this is just not possible at this time.
Rory, UK

If drug companies know that any good aids drugs will simply be nationalised, or at least pirated in the name of "the good of humanity", why should anyone bother to spend valuable R and D money finding the cure to aids, or for that matter, cancer? Private industry always leads the way in science, but only if you reward it, and not punish it.
Richard Murray, London, UK

Universities should do the research, and profit should stop being an issue when it comes to health! Drug manufacturing should be a public service! Working for the health of all and being satisfied with it. But in our times, when all that counts is materialism and not humanity, we are far from defeating Aids, yes...
Genevieve, Belgium

Cheap drugs will prolong the lives of those with Aids, but cheap drugs will not prevent the spread of HIV
Brenda Schmitt, USA
Yes, cheap drugs will prolong the lives of those with Aids, but cheap drugs will not prevent the spread of HIV. Why has not be any laws made by the African governments to make it illegal for those who have HIV/Aids to spread this virus. Surely these people know how HIV is spread. There is a deadly denial among these people that their sexual practice is responsible for this horrific tragedy.
Brenda Schmitt, USA

Cheap Aids drugs will help some of the people already affected. It should be remembered, however, that many millions of people avoid Aids by practising abstinence before marriage, by marrying like-minded people and by remaining faithful to their partner thereafter.
John, UK

No keep them expensive, so the poor in Africa can die and we can live happily ever after... Do we need to answer this question? What is the alternative then? Let's say we don't give cheap drugs to the people who need them. Then what? Who will work the factories of the rich pharmaceutical cost? Who is going to make cars for the rich to enjoy? Who's going to cook for them? Or dress them? Or produce the electricity for their homes to be warm. Are we seriously debating this? Have we become animals? or worse? HELP THE POOR AND SICK - IT IS THE ONLY HUMANE THING TO DO.

Drug companies quite rightly say that making the second tablet only costs a dollar but making the first costs a billion. Unless we make sure that they get a sufficient return to cover the cost of making the first tablet, there will be no new drugs. Not just for Aids but for Sars, for super bugs in hospitals, for the next flu variant, anti rejection transplant drugs, heart drugs etc. Assuming that any drug company making a profit has money to give away on low cost drugs is a foolish, short term approach which will hurt us all in the end. Today's profit is the next round of R&D. I'd quite like to be able to get access to new drugs in years to come, giving away today's R&D money is not the right answer.
John R Smith, UK

No, it won't help in the long-term. All this will do is increase the rate at which HIV becomes resistant to current drugs on the market. Already resistant strains have appeared; this will actually exacerbate the problem not help solve it. The only way to move forward is to reduce it's transmission rate.
Kevin, USA

Just saying "use a condom every time you have sex" is not enough
Kabwe, Zambia
Cheap drugs will go a long way - I should know because a very good friend of mine got infected while on duty as a doctor. He is now on ARVs and they are really helping. However, the thing we need most is the government making a 'national anthem' out of preaching how to prevent HIV and de-stigmatise being infected. Currently the government is not doing much. Just saying "use a condom every time you have sex" is not enough. What about empowerment so that vulnerable people are not forced to engage in unprotected sex? We should also not condemn people who are positive - if we stigmatise them they will just infect others for fear of coming out in the open.
Kabwe, Zambia

The cheaper the better because then the drugs will be available at a rate that is affordable to a larger section of the population. The drugs won't cure a person of Aids but will at least allow the person to live a bit longer. To conclude, it's not enough but it's at least a start.
Amit, Los Angeles, USA

No. I regret to say that this is not the way to win the battle against Aids. It is a humanitarian gesture that will surely save some lives, or at least prolong some lives. But while the HIV pandemic is peaking in southern Africa, it is quietly penetrating the populations of India, China, and Russia, with the governments of those nations denying that it is a major problem!
HIV is spreading. Within ten years, one percent of the human race will be infected. If we cannot find a way to stop the spread of HIV, there is no way we will be able to come up with enough money to treat all the victims with expensive and only partially effective anti viral treatments. If we cannot mobilize internationally the kind of education program that stopped HIV in Uganda, we will be left with the status quo.
Chris Wiegard, Chester, Virginia, USA

Today it costs between 800 million and 1 billion to bring a drug to market and about eight to 10 years of development and tests. Patents last only twenty years and this includes the development and testing phase so in effect pharmaceutical companies have roughly a maximum of 12 years to make back their development costs not just for that particular drug, but also those that fail the regulatory and development tests and make a profit to fund the next generation of drugs.
A recent news article in this country said by 2015 it will not be economically viable for drugs companies to produce new drugs, so make the most of the ones you've got already because they are some of the last and once bacteria and viruses become resistant as they already are in the case of HIV there won't be any more. There is a simple rule if there is no money in it, there are no drugs. Who out there thinks that the generic drug companies will do the research?
Stephen, England

It's a question of humanity, not business or law
Phips, Zimbabwe/Switzerland

We run a Swiss-funded HIV-Clinic in Zimbabwe, where at least 30% of the people are infected with HIV. And here, people just don't have the money to pay first-world prices for therapies. If we do not allow these generic drugs then generations of people will just die. If we let this happen, we put those already struggling countries in a deeper crisis.
Sure, the drugs-business is a business, which has to earn its money like any other, but we should face one thing very clearly: it's a business meant to help people, and this is something you don't do, if you want to get rich! So step forward and let those generics be manufactured to help the poorest of the poor, to have at least a little chance to survive! They still have plenty of other problems. It's a question of humanity, not business or law! People who won't accept that, just come here to see it for yourself, and if you have a heart, you will change your mind within a day!
Phips, Zimbabwe/Zurich, Switzerland

One of the primary causes of Aids which is unknown to most people in developed countries is the fact that for the poorer people of third world countries, sex is the only affordable form of recreation. I think one of the solutions to combat this disease in the third world is the establishment of institutions which will help even the most poor people find meaning in their lives.
Prashant, Toronto, Canada

This will just disrupt human's fight against HIV. All present day HIV/Aids medication does is pay for the development of a cure by stretching the lives and emptying the pockets of those affected by the disease. This hard but it is how the capitalistic system works. Preventing them from paying is preventing them from working. Africans have no pockets to empty so they have no lives to stretch. Cheap medicines will just flood back to the west because even at production cost most Africans won't be able to afford these medicines in a way that they work properly, improving the chances of the virus becoming resistant against the drugs by not taking them as they should.
Rodger, Netherlands

Current aids drugs are not curative and may allow continued transmission. Education and free condoms (Catholic Church take note on both counts) will also be necessary until and if curative therapies are developed. The latter is unlikely to occur soon, particularly if pharmaceutical companies are denied fair profit from their considerable effort in this area.
Paul, UK

Yes, but also accompanied by mandatory free HIV testing
Patrice Farreras, Trinidad
The way forward is for governments to implement mandatory free HIV testing for everyone; on a regular and routine basis. This would at least keep the remaining negative population from becoming infected. The rising HIV figures worldwide bolster the need for this measure to be imposed. I sincerely believe that the only way out is for everyone to know their HIV status so that they can know where they stand for the six month window period. The reality is that catching the HIV virus is a hit or miss, if you are sexually active and not aware of your own status or your partner's HIV status. I think that it is time that we face reality about this disease. Cheap drugs? Yes, but also accompanied by mandatory free HIV testing.
Patrice Farreras, Trinidad

Nobody, not even pharmaceutical companies, can object to making drugs cheaper for people who could not otherwise afford them. But is essential that the people in the West, who can afford to carry the burden of research & development, continue to pay appropriate prices. If not, the development of new drugs will grind to a halt. Meanwhile, regulation of the marketing of drugs could deliver a substantial drop in the price a patient has to pay.
Manu, Mechelen, Belgium

Un-protected sex other than with someone you can trust and used dirty needles is the problem. Education is the answer. Drugs treat the symptom but do nothing toward prevention.
Eric, Washington DC

Has no-one realised that these drugs do not cure aids, or are they going to irradiate it. They nearly help those who have it live longer, an honourable deed in itself, but missing the point. The money and effort should be spent trying to prevent the spread of Aids...or am I missing the point?
Andy, London

The drugs are only reducing the symptoms, not eliminating the cause. Good for the sufferers, not enough to solve the problem. What is needed is an changed attitude towards the disease and the causes like, poverty and ignorance. These can be solved only if the countries involved have stable, not-corrupted and democratic governments which can provide education and help from richer countries to develop their economies.
Jos, NL

In any other industry this act would be called by its real name: piracy
Mike, Los Angeles, CA, USA
This is simply an absolute catastrophe. People neglect to realise that the creation of these drugs required many millions of dollars in research and development. With the advent of widespread generic drug suppliers like these, the real pharmaceutical companies will no longer invest to develop new drugs - drugs that will be sorely needed to counter the growing number of super bugs and highly resistant bacteria that humankind is now breeding (Sars, anyone?). In any other industry this act would be called by its real name: piracy.
Mike, Los Angeles, CA, USA

It is a shame that until now cheap drugs have not been available for these people. Perhaps the West is doing too little, since objectives such as wars seem more important.
Labris, Australia

A sick person can get treatment only when he can afford it. On the other hand a businessman is a businessman, who will not like to sell his goods without adequate profits. Under the circumstances, the only alternative is to subsidise the drugs by the respective states or make them cheap by removing the taxes on them. Aids cannot be removed from earth without the aid of businessmen and rich governments.
N K Sarwal, New Delhi, India

More people will be able to live thanks to Mr Clinton, and no thanks to Mr Bush. The current administration is more interested in getting oil. This administration is not interested in South Africa yet. When they find that South Africa has something they want, Mr Bush will invade as he did in Iraq and he'll think as much of the African people as he does of the people of Iraq.
Jackie Rawlings, USA

When so many lives are at stake, we cannot let the profit margin stand between the people who are dying and the possible cure for their illness
Tom, Cholula, Mexico
I think it's a good idea. Of course, it's too little, too late, but it's something. Unrestrained capitalism in the areas of food and medicine does not seem to work very well. When so many human lives are at stake, we cannot let the profit margin stand between the people who are dying and the possible cure for their illness. I have the feeling that this problem only reached such proportions because people in the so called "developed" countries have never really been concerned about what happens to their poorer brothers and sisters.
Tom, Cholula, Mexico

While Clinton's deal is a welcome development the main problem is poor education. The only reason why the West has curtailed the spread of Aids isn't because of ARVs but because of sexual education. Sex remains a taboo subject in most of Africa hence inhibiting the frank talks that are the hallmarks of an anti-AIDS campaign.
J Stewart, USA

I don't think this will make very much difference because these drugs need to be taken continuously over a long period of time with regular checks to see how the patient is reacting to them. This requires qualified staff, well equipped hospitals, a constant supply requiring good infrastructure and a patient who is educated enough to understand his/her disease and be able to follow the regime demanded if the drugs are to be successful. On top of this we have the corruption, graft and criminal activity.
John, France

I think this will go a long way towards improving the reduction of HIV/Aids infection in developing nations. But they should also make sure that these drugs are made free or sold at affordable prices, so that the poor can afford them. It should not be given to private individuals to distribute and the government of these nations should be held responsible for the spread of these drugs.
Odoemene Chiazor, Aba, Nigeria

No matter how often you drink the latest over-researched medicines, the end result is death
Shutiie F N Libuta, Kitwe, Zambia
Cheap or expensive Aids drugs are simply not the solution as things stand now. It has been proven that no matter how often you drink the latest over-researched medicines, the end result is death. Aids is incurable, so people have to change their attitudes toward unprotected casual sex. This act must be restricted to married couples and even they have to know their HIV/Aids status. It is very deadly today to indulge in sex just for the sake of making ends meet.
Shutiie F N Libuta, Kitwe, Zambia

It's a start. Prevention, education and treatment are needed to combat Aids.
Inga Vikse, NYC

I am living with Aids here in the United States. And the anti-retroviral drugs here are not cheap. I pay over a thousand dollars each month for them - and thankfully I have decent insurance. So I see the challenge of Aids in Africa by allowing cheap drugs to be ineffective. If we can't make drugs cheap here in America, then it is not possible in Africa either.
Nathan Graf, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

More than cheap Aids drugs the world needs cheap or free ant conception and sterilization drugs. Stop creating Aids orphans!
Victor D, Thailand

People need hope and cheap medicine is a solution.
Eric Hovius, Canada

In Africa, we are our own worst enemies, not Aids
Kaycee, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
But for the corrupt African leaders, this initiative by Clinton is a very big step in the management of Aids. Unfortunately, it will only turn out to make more millions for a few African leaders as they will hijack these drugs and sell it at a price that is even higher than what is obtained before the Clinton intervention. In Africa, we are our own worst enemies, not Aids.
Kaycee, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Yes I do! Thank goodness someone is making an issue of it. For years and years the drugs have been available at a fraction of the price - drugs that will help people who are dying. The huge conglomerates which think they rule the world restrict the latest scientific developments because they might lose some money. Thank you Mr Clinton for brokering this deal. There's still a lot to be done but at this very moment perhaps one person's life might be saved.
Sylvia, UK

Every little helps. HIV is epidemic. It can infect anyone anytime, no matter how careful we are. It is a shame that drugs companies use their life saving drugs to just make money. If so many people die, there will be not many for the drugs companies to make cash from. We also need education.
Ronda, UK/UAE

Cheap drugs will help prolong life for those who can afford them
John, USA
Cheap drugs will help prolong life for those who can afford them. But what is needed is public awareness of how the virus is transmitted and useful instruction about preventing the spread, along with ready availability of reliable condoms to all.
John, USA

No amount of money will solve the real issue behind the spread of Aids: cultural orientation. Having been a religious missionary, I can attest to the strong impact cultural orientation has on the behaviour of a nation's citizens. Dependency on the intervention of others to solve problems connected to human behaviour will only serve to worsen the problem of Aids.
John J Procita, USA

HIV/Aids low-cost medication is a good start in the prevention of the dreadful disease Aids. However, there are other correlates to the disease, which need to be tackled also if people in poor African countries are to enjoy the low-cost regime. These are poverty, knowledge of HIV/Aids, and sexual health education among others.
Christian Iyiani, Ukehe, Nigeria

The drugs must have a price tag suitable for someone living on less than a dollar a day
Symon Chipyoza, Lilongwe, Malawi
This is a very good development and I say thank you Mr former President. But the drugs must be cheap in the context of our economical plight. They must have a price tag suitable for someone living on less than a dollar a day please.
Symon Chipyoza, Lilongwe, Malawi

It appears that the world has lost the plot yet again. There is no longer talk of eradicating Aids but controlling it. It doesn't matter how many people get the disease as long as they can have cheap drugs to hid it. Mr Clinton should put more effort into education than making money for the drug companies. Has nobody thought that three times as many people taking drugs at a third the cost is still the same profit. Education is the only way of stopping Aids not cheap handouts of drugs.
Thomas D Jago, Cornwall

Hope other leaders and celebrities do as the former US president has done. BRAVO MR. CLINTON! Hope also that a foreign commission be charged with the distribution/sale of these cheap drugs as they definitely will disappear just at the ports of entry. Corruption had long eaten up the continent than aids itself.
F Juddy, Cameroon

This is a moral scandal that should haunt the leaders of the western world
David, Qatar/UK
Anything, but anything is the way forward. I am ashamed to come from a country that enforces patent restrictions at the expense of people that could never afford full price medication.
This is a moral scandal that should haunt the leaders of the western world. All we need now is for these same leaders to pay for the cheaper drugs so that they are effectively free.
David, Qatar/UK

It's doubtful this will help because of the vast amount of corruption in African governments. The governments will seize control of the drugs and then sell them for higher prices and the poorest of the poor will never get them.
Alice, UK

Bravo! Kudos for Clinton. Now let's go further - perhaps inexpensive or free condoms, along with education.
Cynthia Brown, USA.

Forcing large pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of HIV drugs might appear to be a good thing in the short term, but the long term implications could be disastrous. If HIV drugs are sold at cost, it will become unprofitable to develop new medicines, and research will stop. This has already started to happen. I worked at the Roche Discovery site in Welwyn Garden City until it closed in 2001. Unfortunately, our work effectively stopped when the site was closed. Roche were able to close an entire virology research site without the HIV pressure groups even noticing! No doubt other pharmaceutical companies are also cutting back on HIV research, in favour of more profitable areas.
Colin, UK

I work in a large biotech company and have a different perspective than most on this board. We are in this industry for the purpose of helping people. Without biotech and pharmaceutical companies, the world would be worse off. What drives research and development is a need and MONEY. I've seen the exorbitant costs companies endure just to get the drugs to the trial period and dealing with the regulatory agencies. On average it takes 10 years from discovery of the viable proteins to the manufacturing and final approval of the drug to reach the market. It cost millions which can make or break a company.
I'm all for giving these drugs at a discount to the third world. However, if a good compromise isn't reached and these generic pharmaceuticals in India and S. Africa abuse the goodwill of the companies who spent millions to develop the drugs, then there will be no incentive to continue the research. Thus the world would be worse off.
John, Los Angeles, USA

Certainly a step in the right direction - but such an initiative must be part of a comprehensive strategy that incorporates sex education, HIV/Aids awareness, testing campaigns with the endorsement by and support from African governments.
Eddie Mandhry, Kenya

Ex-President Clinton has show a lot of concern for Aids patients. May other former leaders emulate his example to reduce the suffering of the poor.
Augustus Bondzie, Ghana.

Well done Bill, it's a good start. Now the more difficult part, preventing the Roman Catholic Church from misinforming people about the use of condoms.
Kate C, England

I am hospital administrator of a 400 bed Mission Hospital:
I want to mention 2 aspects of the question
1. Yes, it would be a help because the parents still can raise and educate their children
2. No, it is no help to lessen HIV infections. Change of sexual behaviour is in my opinion for now the only true alternative to fight the disease.
Sr. Elisabeth Kerp OSB, Tanzania

Well done Bill, this is long overdue
Lyn, UK
Well done Bill, this is long overdue, this along with an education programme should help start making a difference, but people have to realise that the problem is a huge one and will take time to bring under control, in particular the male has to be targeted with education and not just leave protection against pregnancy and disease to the female. I hope more companies now follow suit with generic drugs and not just in Aids preparations.
Lyn, UK

This appears to be good progress - the 'West' must realise that Aids is not someone else's problem. Next, how about making these drugs available to the rest of us as well or must we be forced to buy 'branded' drugs.
Danksi, UK

This is definitely a positive step forward. Majority of people affected by this disease come from the most impoverished nations. Providing medicine that is affordable is the best step forward in trying to help those dying from Aids and perhaps improving their quality of life in their last days. I think the drug companies should seriously consider providing medicine for free to those who cannot afford them even at a less than a third of the original cost.
Naomi Apuko, UK

The control of sexual urge is the most important
Ebenezer Akubokefe, Nigeria
I strongly believe that cheap drugs like the ones for aid patients will go a long way in the treatment and prolong the life span of aids patient. But certainly the control of sexual urge is the most important.
Ebenezer Akubokefe, Nigeria

Having cheap drugs is a step forward. However, it is important that these drugs go to those who really need them. And this might prove to be unlikely and very difficult considering the poor infrastructure of the African health system. Thus one must acknowledge that Africa needs to develop a co-ordinated health system to deal with the challenges of the 21st century. And corruption including black market sales must be dealt with too.
Walter Fuller, USA/Cameroon

This is a difficult one. Of course there is a moral imperative to provide affordable treatment to third world countries. On the other hand, it costs billions of dollars to develop and test new drugs - Companies must be able to recover their costs and make profits, otherwise research will stop. Affordable drugs are, however, not enough to combat Aids in Africa. Education about safe sex is required.
John, England

We need to teach our children about Aids and how it spreads
Naima, Somali in USA
Drugs may be helpful to the ones who already have the virus, but what Africa needs is awareness, we need to teach our children/adults about Aids and how it spreads.
Naima, Somali in USA

I think the Aids problem has to be tackled by educating the people. Cheaper drugs may prolong lives but will not change mind sets. The African traditions also play a large role in the problem.
Rosalyn, Zimbabwe

This will never be enough to make the problem go away but it signifies a large step forward to meet the problem head on and will be invaluable for the people in the countries which will receive it.
Alex, UK

Drugs will help those unfortunate people who already have Aids, but they won't stop the disease from spreading. So long as people in these countries continue to behave as though Aids did not exist, the disease will spread.
David Hazel, UK

Many Africans can't afford even cheap drugs
Janet, Australia
Well, many Africans can't afford even cheap drugs. I doubt if making these drugs cheaper will control this epidemic.
Janet, Australia

I am glad someone has finally stepped up and said enough is enough. Why are corporations so greedy? Clearly they have the means to eradicate most medical evils of society, yet they refuse to be generous and offer a decent quality of life to millions.
Seema, UK

Cheap Aids drugs are a step towards treating the illness, but have they done anything to stop the cause? If they educated people more in the way Aids is transmitted and how to prevent it, it would make a bigger difference.
Sian, UK

Clinton brokers landmark Aids deal
23 Oct 03  |  Americas
HIV drugs boost 10-year survival
17 Oct 03  |  Health

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