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Annan pushes AIDS drug makers to bring down prices
By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan encouraged executives from nine drug companies on Monday to lower prices OF AIDS medicines and step up efforts to develop AIDS drugs and diagnostics for children.
Annan for the first time included generic drug makers in his latest in a series of meetings with top drug makers at U.N. headquarters over the past five years.
The meetings aim to encourage the pharmaceutical firms to broaden access to AIDS drugs, care and support services in low- and middle-income countries.
While the executives had helped, the AIDS epidemic was "still outpacing our efforts, and we need to work together in a broad partnership to step up the response," he said.
At his request, the officials agreed to review the prices of existing and new HIV medications and diagnostics to make them more affordable, accessible and appropriate for use in low- and middle-income countries, Annan said.
They also pledged to give greater priority to developing pediatric formulations of HIV medications and diagnostic tools for children.
Attending the meeting were Stephen Saad, group chief executive of South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd.; Chairman P. V. Ramprasad Reddy of Indian drug maker Aurobindo Pharma Ltd.; Gary Cohen, executive vice-president of U.S. firm Becton Dickinson & Co.'s BD Medical unit, and Peter Dolan, chief executive officer of U.S.-based Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
Also attending along with Annan and U.N. officials involved in the fight against AIDS were Jean-Pierre Garnier, chief executive officer of British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline Plc; B.P.S. Reddy, founder of Indian pharmaceutical firm Hetero Drugs Ltd.; Christine Poon, vice chairman of U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson; U.S.-based Merck & Co. Inc. Chief Executive Officer Richard Clark, and Malvinder Mohan Singh, chief executive officer of India's Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd.
Annan: 9 Cos To Help Provide Acess To HIV/AIDS Treatment
UNITED NATIONS (AP)--Nine pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies have pledged to try to help meet the goal of providing universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment by 2010, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday.
Annan issued a statement after a private meeting between senior U.N. officials and top executives of the nine leading companies from the United States, Britain, India and South Africa to discuss ways to step up the response to the AIDS epidemic.
"I am pleased that the companies I met with today pledged to continue their efforts, in line with international commitments toward the goal of being as close as possible to universal access by 2010," he said.
Annan said the companies have made a commitment to the following measures:
- To make their products more affordable, accessible and appropriate for use in low- and middle-income countries;
- To register their HIV medications and diagnostic tools as widely as possible, including in developing countries;
- To give greater priority to research and development of HIV medicines and diagnostic tools for children;
- To increase investment in research and development of new HIV-related medications and diagnostic tools including vaccines and female-controlled technologies such as microbicides;
- To continue to make arrangements with third-party manufacturers for licenses and the transfer of technology to make HIV medications and diagnostic tools more affordable and accessible.
The United Nations agreed to devise, promote and update guidelines on HIV/AIDS diagnosis, treatment and product quality for adults and children. It will also step up its work with all partners to ensure sustained political leadership, adequate resources and better access to voluntary testing and counseling, Annan said.
He said all participants stressed the importance of intellectual property to encourage research and development, and they agreed that strengthening health care systems is essential to expand access to treatment and advanced prevent efforts.
"Progress on all these fronts is essential if we are to win the fight against HIV/AIDS - the greatest challenge of our generation," Annan said.
Participants at the meeting were Aspen Pharmacare of South Africa, Britain's GlaxoSmithKline and three Indian companies - Aurobindo Pharma Ltd., Hetero Drugs Ltd., and Raxbaxy Laboratories Ltd. Four U.S. companies also took part, Becton Dickinson, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck & Co.
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