Sunday, 13 January 2008
Efavirenz too expensive in South Africa, claims report
A report in Health 24 says that, according to the experts, the Department of Health in South Africa is paying much more than it needs to for key HIV drug Efavirenz. On one estimate the government is currently providing almost 400,000 patients with one of two first-line highly active antiretroviral therapy regimens, both consisting of three different drugs. One of the drug combinations contains the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor Efavirenz. According The Western Cape Antiretroviral Programme Monitoring report 2006 cites 64 cents out of every rand spent on first-line drugs as being spent on Efavirenz, making that product more expensive than the two other drugs combined. Generic versions of Efavirenz are rported to be available in other countries at significantly lower prices, with the result that the South African government is paying between 15% and 30% over the odds. Merck Sharpe and Dohme holds the patent, and other companies wishing to make the drug require a licence. Apparently such licences were granted to two companies: Thembalami Pharmaceuticals (which is no longer in existence)and Aspen (which has not yet brought a product to market).