The William J. Clinton Foundation has announced new pricing agreements with nine drug companies to lower the prices of HIV testing and two antiretroviral drugs (ARV).
Four companies — Chembio (U.S.), Orgenics (Israel), Qualpro Diagnostics (India), and Shanghai Kehua (China) — will offer rapid HIV diagnosis tests for .49 to .65 cents per test. As a result of the agreements brokered through the foundation's HIV/AIDS initiative, countries will be able to reduce the cost of HIV diagnosis by 50 percent. In addition, Cipla (India), Ranbaxy (India), Strides Arcolab (India), and Aspen Pharmacare (South Africa) — relying on a supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients from Matrix Laboratories (India) — will offer the antiretroviral efavirenz for $240 per patient per year, while Cipla will offer the ARV abacavir for $447. Those prices represent savings of more than 30 percent from current market rates.
Because more than 90 percent of the 40 million people living with HIV in the world do not know that they are infected with the virus, aggressive expansion of HIV testing is critical to both prevention and treatment. According to Clinton Foundation officials, developing countries will need to run at least 200 million HIV tests in the next four years in order to reach treatment targets.
"The action of these companies is another important step in the fight against HIV/AIDS," said former President Bill Clinton. "With more than one million people on treatment in developing countries, we face a growing challenge to keep costs affordable as we reach out to millions more in need. For relatively low-cost commodities like rapid tests, the challenge is in the volumes. Widespread testing is essential to make prevention and treatment work, and making diagnosis cheaper will allow us to extend testing services to more people, more quickly."