Letter |

Communication to intergovernmental bodies re: more affordable AIDS drugs

3 min

Letter sent to WHO, UNAIDS, UNICEF, World Bank, and the European Commission, following up on Cipla’s announcement that they would offer MSF an ARV triple-combination at sharply reduced prices.

Dear Sir or Madam,

We are writing to follow up on the welcome announcement made by Dr Hamied of the Indian drug manufacturer Cipla, that he will offer an antiretroviral triple-combination at dramatically reduced prices. In light of the extensive - and possibly confusing - media coverage of the announcement, we wanted to be sure that you received a clear and accurate summary of the facts.

During a teleconference with MSF last Tuesday, Dr Hamied offered us a "humanitarian price" of $350 per year for a combination of stavudine (2 x 40mg tablets), lamivudine (2 x 150mg tablets), and nevirapine (2 x 200mg tablets), under the condition that MSF give the medicine free of charge to patients. He offered the same combination to governments at $600 per year, provided that government tenders have "the backing of MSF." He also quoted a normal commercial price of $1200 per year.

We wanted to clarify that we did not seek a special price for MSF, nor did we want to take the role of global distributor or "backer" of government purchases. Rather, MSF believes that governments and the UN system must be involved in order to achieve a sustainable, global solution to the AIDS crisis; furthermore, we believe that these bodies - and not MSF - have the responsibility and mandate for international procurement and distribution. Therefore, we have asked Dr Hamied to offer his price directly to governments and UN agencies. We also believe that the options presented by Cipla should be incorporated and coordinated with other UN initiatives for tackling this pandemic, and hope the issue can soon be discussed further.

We should also keep in mind that this is an opportunity not to be missed. We all have the responsibility to people living with AIDS to convert Cipla's offer as soon as possible into real impact on the ground. Therefore, we would like to suggest that UNAIDS convene an international meeting to plan for implementation and address critical questions including funding, international procurement, and the relevent intellectual property issues such as voluntary and compulsory licensing. Such a meeting should bring together developing countries, UN agencies, drug manufacturers, and donors.

We commit ourselves and look forward to continuing our work together on this important issue,


Dr Bernard Pécoul
Director, Access to Essential Medicines Campaign Médecins Sans Frontières