MSF Pilot Antiretroviral Program Using Brazilian Generics

On January 29, 2002, members of the Treatment Access Campaign (TAC) imported a shipment of generic antiretroviral drugs from Brazil for use in a program run by Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Kayelitsha. The drugs imported were AZT, 3TC, AZT+3TC, and Nevirapine. By using generics the cost of antiretrovirals per patient per day falls from US$3.20 to US$1.55, allowing MSF to treat more people. The anti-AIDS program in Kayleitsha shows that treatment is possible in areas with limited resources and challenges the South African government to provide low-cost medicine to its HIV+ citizens. The drugs are patented in South Africa, so if the government were to import generics from Brazil or anywhere else, it would need to either get a voluntary license from the patent-holding pharmaceutical company, or issue a compulsory license.


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