August 15, 2005

After two days of negotiations in Buenos Aries, Argentina, drug manufacturers have agreed to reduce the prices of HIV/AIDS therapies used in treatment programmes in Latin America by as much as 15-55%. Under the accord, national spending on anti-retrovirals (ARVs) in the region will be reduced by around 9%, on average. The aim of the talks had been to establish a price cap on ARVs with individual countries then free to negotiate further reductions on an individual basis. However, a number of multinationals refused to participate owing to the continuing threats of a number of governments in the region to break patents on innovative ARVs.

As a result of the agreement, Argentina will gain a 20% reduction on its ARS20mn (US$6.94mn) HIV/AIDS treatment budget, with Brazil able to reduce its wide-ranging and controversial treatment programme by 9%, to US$112mn. Brazil is one of the worst hit countries in Latin America, accounting for an estimated 57% of all cases of HIV/AIDS in the region. Brazil's HIV/AIDS programme covers some 160,000 people and utilises a total of 17 drugs, seven of which are still under patent.