Cost Of Second-Line ARVs A 'Huge Barrier To Care' In Resource-Poor Countries

In this U.N. Dispatch blog post, Mark Leon Goldberg, managing editor of the blog, examines the costs of second-line antiretroviral treatments (ARVs), which “are several orders of magnitude more expensive than traditional, first-line ARV treatments” and are a “huge barrier to providing care” for resource-poor countries. He writes of “a huge gap in the way governments and donors have historically approached people living with HIV,” adding that “as more people access first-line treatment, there will be more opportunities for people to develop resistance to that first line. Donors and governments in the developing world simply can’t afford that kind of outlay.”

“One of the reasons that the costs of second- and third-line treatments are so high is that the drug manufacturers hold expensive patents on the drugs,” he writes, noting that UNITAID’s brand new “patent pool,” launched last month, “seeks to bridge the moral imperative to provide low-cost drugs to patients and drug companies’ need to see a return on their investments. Drug companies who participate in the patent pool hand over their patents to UNITAID, which makes those patents available to generic drug manufacturers” (8/29).