NEW AIDS DRUGS NEEDED IN AFRICA, CLAIMS MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIERES

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French-based pressure group Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has claimed that more up-to-date HIV/AIDS drugs are needed in Africa, but they are not available as multinational companies are refusing to release them and there are no generic versions.

The body cited the example of anti-retroviral treatment Kaletra. There is a new version of the drug, which does not require refrigeration, but it is not obtainable in Africa. Health authorities in Nigeria's capital of Lagos are particularly keen to get hold of the treatment due to hot temperatures and frequent power cuts in the city.

Meanwhile, MSF claims that prices remain a huge challenge in South Africa. Presently, the organisation pays US$194 per patient per year for standard front-line therapy. However, due to side effects and growing drug resistance, many patients have to switch to second-line treatments, which are eight times more expensive -- costing US$1,661 annually.

Activists claim the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has further restricted access to affordable sources of new medicines. Highly complex procedures have been established for a recent amendment that would allow the export of generic versions of patented drugs.