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Clinton Brokers Deal: Children with HIV to receive cheap drugs & starts treatment for kids in India
  Ashling O'Connor, Bombay
-- Clinton deal with companies in India
-- Discount of 45% on the market rate
Bill Clinton, the former US President, announced a deal with pharmaceutical companies yesterday to supply cut-price antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive children in India, the country with the highest incidence of Aids.
Under the agreement between the Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative and Ranbaxy Laboratories and Cipla, two leading Indian drugs groups, 19 different antiretro- viral formulas will be distri- buted for as little as 45 cents (23p) a day, or $60 a year.
The price represents a 45 per cent discount on the best available market rate in developing countries for the drugs, which suppress the symptoms of the immunodeficiency virus, allowing sufferers to live relatively normal lives.
The deal is an extension of one struck with several Indian companies in January to supply discounted rapid HIV tests and anti-Aids drugs to adults. It will be administered under the umbrella of Unitaid, an international drug-purchase facility established in September by France, Brazil, Chile, Norway and Britain for the treatment of HIV-Aids, malaria and tuberculosis in countries most affected by these illnesses.
Unitaid will provide $35 million and the Clinton Foundation $15 million under a worldwide programme to treat an additional 100,000 HIV- positive children in 62 countries next year.
"Though the world has made progress in expanding HIV-Aids treatment to adults, children have been left behind. Only one in ten children who needs treatment is getting it," Mr Clinton said on the eve of World Aids Day. "We have to make a new commitment that every child and adult who needs treatment should have access to the drugs."
Flanked by Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the ruling Congress party, and Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French Foreign Minister, at one of the busiest hospitals in Delhi, the former president unveiled a plan by the Indian Government to treat 10,000 children by March by upgrading existing adult HIV and Aids treatment centres to include pediatric facilities.
"No child should have to live with HIV. Pediatric drugs should be affordable and easy to administer," Mr Douste- Blazy, chairman of Unitaid, said. India has the largest number of HIV-Aids cases of any country, with 5.7 million people living with the virus, eclipsing the 5.5 million in South Africa, previously the worst-affected country.
Only 55,000 people, or 7 per cent of cases in India, are getting access to treatment, according to the United Nations' Aids-monitoring body. By comparison Brazil, with 620,000 HIV-infected citizens, treats 83 per cent of those ill enough to require the drugs.
The Government is trying to curb the spread of the virus in India, where health education is poor, particularly in the rural areas, and aims to be treating 100,000 patients by the end of next year. Last year it spent 7 billion rupees (80 million) on Aids, more than on any other illness. Mrs Gandhi said that six of the twenty-eight states were seriously affected, including Nagaland and Mani pur in the northeast, where transmission was largely through intravenous drug use.
Deadly toll
# 5.7m infections, in absolute numbers: India
# 33.4% infections, as percentage of population: Swaziland
# 240,000 children infected in South Africa
# 270,000- 680,000 deaths in India
# 270,000- 380,000 deaths in South Africa
# 0.6% antiretroviral treatment in Sudan and Somalia (of infected people
Source: WHO/United Nations
Clinton launches low-cost Aids drugs
Randeep Ramesh in New Delhi
Thursday November 30, 2006
Guardian Unlimited
At least 100,000 HIV-positive children are to receive low-cost drugs for life - using money raised by a tax on flying.
The former US president Bill Clinton said today that the new charges on airline tickets, pioneered by France, meant his Clinton Foundation HIV/Aids Initiative had the buying power to negotiate with drug companies for big discounts.
This year the foundation will receive $350m (179m), most of it from an airline ticket tax France began collecting this summer. The French government charges passengers ∈4 (2.7) for every international economy seat they buy and ∈40 for first-class ones. Britain has backed the initiative, called Unitaid, with $25m, but used traditional aid money rather than charging fliers.
Mr Clinton said he was focusing on children in the developing world because he realised that not much was being done for them. "Only one in 10 children who need [treatment] to live get the drugs. That has to change."
The foundation has been able to reduce sharply the price of anti-retroviral drugs. Mr Clinton, speaking after a visit to a new ward for children affected by Aids in New Delhi, said two Indian pharmaceutical companies, Cipla and Ranbaxy, have agreed to supply antiretroviral drugs for children at prices as low as 16 cents a day, or $60 annually.
"India should be proud of these companies they are saving countless lives every day," he said. "We are negotiating for 19 products which are 47% less costly than what is available today."
India, with 5.7 million HIV-positive people, has the highest number of cases in the world. The new deal would provide HIV treatment for 10,000 children in India alone by March 2007.
Mr Clinton added the new medicines were also easier to store, transport and use than current drugs - "this will help children everywhere from the Bahamas to Ethiopia."
Mr Clinton was flanked by India's most powerful politician, Sonia Gandhi, and the French foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, a testament to the networking power that the former president still wields.
Mr Douste-Blazy said that by 2008 Unitaid, which has headquarters in Geneva, will have a budget of $0.5bn. "This is a global issue. We are seeing 1,900 new cases [of children infected with HIV] every day especially in the countries of the south."
At the last count, India has 202,000 children who are HIV positive, one of the largest concentrations of youth infections in the world. The country has only just woken up to the fact Aids is silently killing off the supposed labour force of the future.
Ms Gandhi, who has made tackling Aids one of her government's top priorities, admitted that the country had suffered in the past from a "painful paradox" which saw Indian companies supplying Aids treatments everywhere but India.
"That has changed. At the moment 8% of those affected get drugs [in India]. I am confident that momentum will continue," she said.
Sonia, Clinton launch HIV/AIDS initiative
Thursday, November 30, 2006 (New Delhi):
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and former US President Bill Clinton launched the first ever National Paediatric HIV/AIDS Initiative in New Delhi.
Ten thousand children living with HIV/AIDS across the country are expected to benefit from the initiative. Gandhi and Clinton toured Kalavati Saran Children's Hospital - the first centre to offer free anti-retroviral therapy (ART) for children and handed over a protocol booklet for administering the treatment to the in-charge, Dr A K Dutta.
The function was attended by Union Health Minister A Ramadoss among others.
Free drugs
The Clinton HIV/AIDS Foundation is providing drugs for 10,000 children free of cost.
"Even as many countries make progress in combatting HIV/AIDS, children are being left behind," Clinton said.
He added that his foundation has focused on treatment for children and is committed to treat 1,00,000 minors worldwide by the end of next year.
"This is a great day but we have a long way to go," he said, adding every child should have access to anti-AIDS drugs.
Terming the initiative as the "most important step forward", Gandhi said there are a number of populous states where prevalence of the disease is low.
"But care should be taken as these are most vulnerable," she added.
"Social ostracism is still prevalent," said Gandhi and added that there was a need to remove the stigma associated with the disease so that more people can be treated.
Under the initiative, there will be 36 Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) Centres and seven registered paediatrics centers where free CD-4 count monitoring, a test for HIV/AIDS, till the age of 15 years, will be done. (PTI)
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