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Death watch, Part 5. An unequal calculus of life and death. As millions perished in pandemic, firms debated access to drugs.
WASHINGTON POST. 2000 Dec 27; A1.In response to the starkness of the global divide between the HIV-positive people and the ones saved from infection, and its growing political repercussions, the pharmaceutical industry and governments have pledged help. Five international agencies (Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, WHO, UN International Children's Emergency Fund, World Bank, and UN Development Program) conducted a meeting with five pharmaceutical companies (Merck, Hoffmann-La Roche, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Glaxo Wellcome, and Boehringer Ingelheim) to negotiate global access to AIDS drugs. Although negotiations began in Geneva in 1991 and lasted for 2 years, both parties have been hesitant to reach a compromise because of one major factor--the price. These companies say they are willing to provide big discounts, yet they required that the concerned government and these international agencies should burden some of the expenses. However, it came out that even these international agencies are reluctant to invest in AIDS drugs saying that it is “cost-ineffective”. The bottomline of the negotiation is that financial resources play an important part when discussing global access to AIDS drugs and until this can be settled, millions of HIV-infected individuals will continue to suffer.
Death watch, Part 6. A turning point that left millions behind. Drug discounts benefit few while protecting pharmaceutical companies' profits.
WASHINGTON POST. 2000 Dec 28; A1.The deal between 5 major pharmaceutical companies and 5 international agencies announced on May 11, 2000 to provide affordable AIDS medicines in poor countries was considered a turning point in the world’s response to the poorest AIDS sufferers. It is noted that doubts and disputes rived the potential partners, and each side tried in some measure to subvert the other’s goals. The agencies had an unspoken aim to drive prices of patented AIDS drugs down to the level of generics, and to make those prices available as widely as possible. Meanwhile, the drug companies are negotiating variable prices in strict confidence and neither the companies nor their partners have committed in practical terms to bring treatment to significant numbers of the dying. The drug discounts proposed and implemented have benefited only a few while protecting pharmaceutical companies’ profits.