Patent laws and US trade agreements are hindering access to HIV treatment

International patent laws and US-negotiated trade agreements are impeding access to life-saving HIV medicines (antiretroviral therapy, ART), say researchers in a policy paper in PLoS Medicine.

"Multinational pharmaceutical companies, World Trade Organization members, US and European Union trade representatives, and health-care activists have clashed over provision of ART to people living with AIDS in developing countries," say Michael Westerhaus (Brigham and Women's Hospital) and Arachu Castro (Harvard Medical School).

Activists contend that current intellectual property law impedes the purchase of ART in resource-poor settings and allows pharmaceutical companies to monopolize the markets of developing nations. "As a result,' say the authors, "the cost of these treatments far exceeds personal and national budgets, and the development of more affordable generic alternatives is proscribed. "

In addition, they say, "the US has embarked on an aggressive campaign to liberalize trade through bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade agreements and this campaign also has an impact on access to ART. These agreements have conditioned liberalized trade upon the expansion of intellectual property law for multinational pharmaceutical companies holding patents for antiretrovirals among other essential medicines."

The agreements, say Westerhaus and Castro, extend the protection of patents beyond the current 20-year period, freeze generic manufacturing of ART, protect the manufacturers' drug testing data for five years (a practice known as data exclusivity), and limit options for poor countries to manufacture their own ART during a public health emergency.

Citation: Westerhaus M, Castro A (2006) How do intellectual property law and international trade agreements affect access to antiretroviral therapy? PLoS Med 3(8): e332.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030332

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-03-08-castro.pdf

Related image for press use: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-03-08-castro.jpg

Caption: Annual Treatment Cost of Stavudine (d4T) 40mg + Lamivudine (3TC) 150mg + Nevirapine (NVP) 200mg Per Patient in Countries Receiving PEPFAR Funding For Which Cost Information Is Available. Source: Global Price Reporting Mechanism, http://www.who.int/3by5/amds/price/hdd/index.aspx

Note: The calculations have been made with the most recent cost published. Drug manufacturers include Cipla (FDC), Bristol-Myers Squibb (d4T), GlaxoSmithKline (3TC), and Boehringer Ingelheim (NVP). In all these countries, the annual cost of branded d4T is US$55 and that of branded 3TC is US$70; NVP accounts for the rest of the cost.

CONTACT:

Arachu Castro
Harvard Medical School
Program in Infectious Disease and Social Change, Department of Social Medicine
641 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115 United States of America
1-617-432-6038
1-617-432-6045 (fax)
Arachu_Castro@hms.harvard.edu


Improving the survival of newborn infants in the slums of Mumbai

In India, 26 million babies are born every year, and 1.2 million die in the first four weeks of life, a figure that accounts for a quarter of global neonatal deaths. India thus faces the biggest newborn health challenge of any country in the world. Researchers from Mumbai and London describe an innovative project, The City Initiative for Newborn Health, aimed at improving the survival and health of mothers and newborn infants in slum communities in Mumbai.

Citation: Fernandez A, Osrin D (2006) The City Initiative for Newborn Health. PLoS Med 3(9): e339.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030339

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-03-09-fernandez.pdf

Related image for press use: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-03-09-fernandez.jpg

Caption: Causes of Neonatal Mortality in India

Related images for press use: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-03-09-fernandez-2.jpg

Caption: Magnitude of Urban Poverty Worldwide

CONTACT:

Armida Fernandez
Sneha Urban Health Centre
SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action for Women and Children)
60 Feet Rd
Dharavi
Mumbai, 400017 India
drfernandez@snehamumbai.org

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About PLoS Medicine

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