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Cheaper drugs from India for people with HIV

Map of Burkina Faso
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Burkina Faso is to import cheaper generic drugs from India for people living with HIV under an agreement with the Chemical Industrial Pharmaceutical Laboratories (CIPLA) of India, Minister of Health Alain Yoda said on Tuesday in Ouagadougou.

"Where making treatment accessible to persons affected by the pandemic is concerned, the issue of the prices of anti-retrovirals is a constant and undeniable concern," Yoda said after signing the agreement. "Even though the prices have gone down in recent years, they remain an obstacle for the traetment of a great number of persons who really need them."

With the generic medecine imported from India, the monthly treatment of HIV/AIDS will cost the equivalent of US $37 to US $70 per month. "This is the beginning of the implementation of the dynamisation policy of emergency treatment and medical care for persons living with AIDS in hospitals," Yoda said.

A convention signed in 2001 with pharmaceutical giant Glaxosmithkline, had led to a lowering of the cost of monthly treatments from US $500 to between $100 and $150. Until then, only 150 people living with HIV had had access to treatment. That figure has since risen to 675, Yoda said.

"With advances in technology there are possibilities to make the medecine available to the great number at very low prices," said Shailesh Pednekan, export executive of CIPLA. CIPLA is one of the first companies to market generic medecines and it has been recognised by UNAIDS and WHO.

The health minister said he hoped 2,000 patients would have access to treatment with the new prices. However, this number would be still low since statistics show that 50,000 persons - 15 percent of infected people in Burkina Faso, according to various estimates, - need treatment.

Burkina Faso hopes to reach more people with the help of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The government, which is eligible for assistance, has asked for financial assistance to provide medecine and biological follow up for 3,600 patients at a cost of $5 a month.

More than 45 percent of the 12 million Burkinabe live in poverty i.e. on less than US $120 a year.

Some 6.5 percent of the country's people are believed to be HIV positive, according to latest UNAIDS figures. Until recently, the rate was 7.17 percent.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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