Geneva, 24 January 2003 — Pharmacia/ International Dispensary Association (IDA) agreement is good news in the sense that is sets a precedent among drug companies, for the first time, a company is offering a non-profit organisation rights to distribute its AIDS drug in a large block of developing countries. The bad news is that the drug in this first case is delavirdine, a three times daily antiretroviral that is not recommended by the World Health Organisation and not a drug of choice. The drug is also not currently used in MSF antiretroviral projects.
MSF however is supportive of the concept of companies granting licenses and providing know how to non-profit entities, such as IDA, to produce AIDS medicines. We call on producers of other AIDS medicines to do the same. If they are not willing to voluntary allow this type of distribution in poor countries, the WHO and WTO need to support an international mandatory mechanism to make this happen.
"This offer is proof that developing countries will only get the left over AIDS medicines unless the WHO and WTO figure out how to mandate that companies give affordable access," said Dr. Morten Rostrup, President of MSF International Council. "There are mandatory rules on patents, why aren't there mandatory rules on ensuring access?"
MSF currently treats people with AIDS in 11 developing countries and plans to increase this by two fold in 2003.