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      Intervening in global markets to improve access to HIV/AIDS treatment: an analysis of international policies and the dynamics of global antiretroviral medicines markets

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          Universal access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in low- and middle-income countries faces numerous challenges: increasing numbers of people needing ART, new guidelines recommending more expensive antiretroviral (ARV) medicines, limited financing, and few fixed-dose combination (FDC) products. Global initiatives aim to promote efficient global ARV markets, yet little is known about market dynamics and the impact of global policy interventions.


          We utilize several data sources, including 12,958 donor-funded, adult first-line ARV purchase transactions, to describe the market from 2002-2008. We examine relationships between market trends and: World Health Organization (WHO) HIV/AIDS treatment guidelines; WHO Prequalification Programme (WHO Prequal) and United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals; and procurement policies of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (GFATM), US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and UNITAID.


          WHO recommended 7, 4, 24, and 6 first-line regimens in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2009 guidelines, respectively. 2009 guidelines replaced a stavudine-based regimen ($88/person/year) with more expensive zidovudine- ($154-260/person/year) or tenofovir-based ($244-465/person/year) regimens. Purchase volumes for ARVs newly-recommended in 2006 (emtricitabine, tenofovir) increased >15-fold from 2006 to 2008. Twenty-four generic FDCs were quality-approved for older regimens but only four for newer regimens. Generic FDCs were available to GFATM recipients in 2004 but to PEPFAR recipients only after FDA approval in 2006. Price trends for single-component generic medicines mirrored generic FDC prices. Two large-scale purchasers, PEPFAR and UNITAID, together accounted for 53%, 84%, and 77% of market volume for abacavir, emtricitabine, and tenofovir, respectively, in 2008. PEPFAR and UNITAID purchases were often split across two manufacturers.


          Global initiatives facilitated the creation of fairly efficient markets for older ARVs, but markets for newer ARVs are less competitive and slower to evolve. WHO guidelines shape demand, and their complexity may help or hinder achievement of economies of scale in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Certification programs assure ARV quality but can delay uptake of new formulations. Large-scale procurement policies may decrease the numbers of buyers and sellers, rendering the market less competitive in the longer-term. Global policies must be developed with consideration for their short- and long-term impact on market dynamics.

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          Most cited references 12

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          Generic fixed-dose combination antiretroviral treatment in resource-poor settings: multicentric observational cohort.

          The use fixed-dose combination (FDC) is a critical tool in improving HAART. Studies on the effectiveness of combined lamivudine, stavudine and nevirapine (3TC/d4T/NVP) are scarce. To analyse 6861 patients in a large observational cohort from 21 Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) HIV/AIDS programmes taking 3TC/d4T/NVP, with subcohort analyses of patients at 12 and 18 months of treatment. Survival was analysed using Kaplan-Meier method and factors associated with progression to death with Cox proportional hazard ratio. Median baseline CD4 cell count at initiating of FDC was 89 cells/microl [interquartile range (IQR), 33-158]. The median follow-up time was 4.1 months (IQR, 1.9-7.3). The incidence rate of death during follow-up was 14.2/100 person-years [95% confidence interval (CI), 13.8-14.5]. Estimates of survival (excluding those lost to follow-up) were 0.93 (95% CI, 92-94) at 6 months (n = 2,231) and 0.90 (95% CI, 89-91) at 12 months (n = 472). Using a Cox model, the following factors were associated with death: male gender, symptomatic infection, body mass index < 18 kg/m and CD4 cell count 15-50 cells/microl or < 15 cells/microl. Subcohort analysis of 655 patients after 1 year of follow-up (M12 FDC cohort) revealed that 77% remained on HAART, 91% of these still on the FDC regimen; 5% discontinued the FDC because of drug intolerance. At 18 months, 77% of the patients remained on HAART. Positive outcomes for d4T/3TC/NVP are reported for up to 18 months in terms of efficacy and safety.
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            Do fixed-dose combination pills or unit-of-use packaging improve adherence? A systematic review.

            Adequate adherence to medication regimens is central to the successful treatment of communicable and noncommunicable disease. Fixed-dose combination pills and unit-of-use packaging are therapy-related interventions that are designed to simplify medication regimens and so potentially improve adherence. We conducted a systematic review of relevant randomized trials in order to quantify the effects of fixed-dose combination pills and unit-of-use packaging, compared with medications as usually presented, in terms of adherence to treatment and improved outcomes. Only 15 trials met the inclusion criteria; fixed-dose combination pills were investigated in three of these, while unit-of-use packaging was studied in 12 trials. The trials involved treatments for communicable diseases (n = 5), blood pressure lowering medications (n = 3), diabetic patients (n = 1), vitamin supplementation (n = 1) and management of multiple medications by the elderly (n = 5). The results of the trials suggested that there were trends towards improved adherence and/or clinical outcomes in all but three of the trials; this reached statistical significance in four out of seven trials reporting a clinically relevant or intermediate end-point, and in seven out of thirteen trials reporting medication adherence. Measures of outcome were, however, heterogeneous, and interpretation was further limited by methodological issues, particularly small sample size, short duration and loss to follow-up. Overall, the evidence suggests that fixed-dose combination pills and unit-of-use packaging are likely to improve adherence in a range of settings, but the limitations of the available evidence means that uncertainty remains about the size of these benefits.
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              Sustaining access to antiretroviral therapy in the less-developed world: lessons from Brazil and Thailand.

              ANTIRETROVIRAL ROLLOUT IN BRAZIL AND THAILAND: Brazil and Thailand are among few developing countries to achieve universal access to antiretroviral therapy. Three factors were critical to this success: legislation for free access to treatment; public sector capacity to manufacture medicines; and strong civil society action to support government initiatives to improve access. LOCAL PRODUCTION OF AFFORDABLE, NON-PATENTED DRUGS: Many older antiretroviral drugs are not patented in either country and affordable generic versions are manufactured by local pharmaceutical institutes. Developing countries were not required to grant patents on medicines until 2005, but under US government threats of trade sanctions, Thailand and Brazil began doing so at least ten years prior to this date. Brazil has used price negotiations with multi-national pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of newer patented antiretrovirals. However, the prices obtained by this approach remain unaffordable. Thailand recently employed compulsory licensing for two antiretrovirals, obtaining substantial price reductions, both for generic and brand products. Following Thailand's example, Brazil has issued its first compulsory license. Middle-income countries are unable to pay the high prices of multinational pharmaceutical companies. By relying on negotiations with companies, Brazil pays up to four times more for some drugs compared with prices available internationally. Compulsory licensing has brought treatment with newer antiretrovirals within reach in Thailand, but has resulted in pressure from industry and the US government. An informed and engaged civil society is essential to support governments in putting health before trade.

                Author and article information

                Global Health
                Globalization and Health
                BioMed Central
                25 May 2010
                : 6
                : 9
                [1 ]Department of Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, One Boston Medical Center Place, Dowling 5 South, Boston, MA 02118, USA
                [2 ]Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
                [3 ]Toulouse School of Economics, Toulouse, France
                [4 ]National Bureau of Economics, Cambridge, MA, USA
                [5 ]Centre for Economic Policy Research, London, UK
                [6 ]Partners In Health, Boston, MA USA
                [7 ]Boston University School of Public Health, Data Coordinating Center, Boston, MA, USA
                [8 ]Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Global Health and Population, Boston, MA 02115, USA
                [9 ]University of KwaZulu-Natal, Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, Mtubatuba 3935, South Africa
                [10 ]Sustainability Science Program, Center for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
                Copyright ©2010 Waning et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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