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Author Topic: Unfair income ranking denies AIDS drugs to many  (Read 1332 times)

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Offline gerry

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  • Posts: 522
  • Joined AM Feb 2003
Unfair income ranking denies AIDS drugs to many
« on: October 18, 2006, 11:57:38 AM »
The first thing that came to mind when I read this article was how parallel this situation is to many low to middle income folks in the US who find themselves without access to affordable health insurance but aren't qualified for any government-sponsored programs because they exceed the income limits...



Unfair income ranking denies AIDS drugs to many
By Jorge A. Saavedra Lopez and Michael Weinstein

In August, the global HIV/AIDS community wrapped up the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto and made plans to meet again in two years in Mexico City to assess the progress made in the global fight against AIDS. It's a shame that between now and then thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS in Mexico will have died of the disease, unable to afford treatment.

Why? Because Mexico is not poor enough.

The World Bank classifies Mexico as an upper-middle-income country. Middle-income countries are not proffered the same drug price reductions as low-income countries via the Accelerated Access Initiative, a public-private effort to increase access to essential medicines in the developing world.

There is no question that the poorest countries of the world hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic, like many on the African continent, must be allowed to purchase life-saving AIDS drugs at the lowest price possible. But can the people of Mexico any more afford the astronomical cost of these drugs than the people of sub-Saharan Malawi?

Consider this: The gross national income per capita, or GNI, in Mexico is $6,790 a year. The annual cost of anti-retroviral treatment in the country averages $8,000 -- or about 18 percent more than an average individual's income. At these prices, AIDS drugs are just as out of reach for the average Mexican as they would be, before the welcomed price reductions, in low-income countries where the GNI is closer to $800. One commonly prescribed AIDS drug, Abbott Laboratories' Kaletra, can be had for $500 a year in least-developed countries, while the very same drug costs $5,000 a year in Mexico.

And Mexico is not alone. Dozens of middle-income countries throughout Asia, Central America and Eastern Europe are similarly subjected to outrageous drug prices -- keeping lifesaving medicines out of reach and creating a serious obstacle to combating growing AIDS epidemics in these countries.

When it comes to country classification, higher overall average income does not necessarily indicate less poverty. There are millions of people in middle-income countries who live on less than $2 a day. The gulf between the rich and the poor gapes wide, and GNI, which crudely divides a country's total income by its total population to arrive at an estimate of average individual incomes, often obscures the fact that the majority of a country's citizens may live in poverty.

Given the fact that populations most affected by HIV/AIDS are often society's most marginalized -- often earning well below what might be considered a country's ``average'' income -- the use of country classification to price life-saving drugs seems particularly arbitrary -- and even cruel. A middle-income designation should not spell death for millions of people, especially when such a classification does not accurately reflect what people, and governments, can actually afford.

Currently, the Mexican government is committed to purchasing HIV/AIDS drugs on behalf of the vast majority of its citizens in need -- an effort that is simply unsustainable at current price levels. Spending as much as $5,000 per drug per patient per year will dry up the budget, making it impossible to offer other health services, such as laboratory tests, which are critical to providing effective treatment, but not easily accessible to the vast majority of Mexicans living with HIV.

Recognizing the urgent need, one drug company, Gilead Sciences has already cut prices for its HIV/AIDS drugs by two-thirds for countries classified as middle-income, like Mexico. Other pharmaceutical companies must follow suit and expand the Accelerated Access Initiative to include middle-income countries, where the needs are great and the resources few.

The bottom line? Whether it is individual citizens or their governments charged with safeguarding the public health, when it comes to living with HIV/AIDS, if you can afford the drugs, you live; if you cannot, you die. As preparations begin for Mexico City's 2008 AIDS summit, we must ask ourselves: Are we willing to let people in Mexico and other middle-income countries die because they are, in fact, not poor enough? Surely there must be a better way.

Link to article

Offline allopathicholistic

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Re: Unfair income ranking denies AIDS drugs to many
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2006, 12:22:27 PM »
Given the fact that populations most affected by HIV/AIDS are often society's most marginalized -- often earning well below what might be considered a country's ``average'' income -- the use of country classification to price life-saving drugs seems particularly arbitrary -- and even cruel. A middle-income designation should not spell death for millions of people, especially when such a classification does not accurately reflect what people, and governments, can actually afford.

oh wow - i'm guessing this entity must have spent 10 back-breaking minutes to devise such a callous, languid policy!  >:(  .... who are these global geniuses ???  >:(  >:(  :'(  ... i personally know a mexican woman with extremely powerful political ties (born into a powerful family). she is not poor. not by a long shot.

« Last Edit: October 18, 2006, 12:25:58 PM by allopathicholistic »

Offline Eldon

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  • Posts: 2,664
Re: Unfair income ranking denies AIDS drugs to many
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2006, 01:06:54 AM »
Hey Gerry,

They should have just as much support that the other countries are getting. What happened to equality?



Make the BEST of each Day!

Offline aztecan

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  • Posts: 5,394
  • 29 years positive, 57 years a pain in the butt
Re: Unfair income ranking denies AIDS drugs to many
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2006, 09:17:32 AM »
I have had some connection with the Border Health Project, which tries to help those along the U.S.-Mexico border living with HIV.

A friend who visited a clinic in Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, described it as something out of a horror story. Apparently, people were doing without meds and many amenities.

We have, for some time, tried to help by sending unused meds to our neighbors to the south. Even such things as Bactrim, which is relatively cheap, is in short supply in some areas.

This is a reminder of two things: Many of the policies dreamed up by bureaucrats are downright meanspirited and can have devastating effects; and, we are truly very lucky here in the U.S., despite all of the shortcomings of our health care system.

HUGS,

Mark
"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

Offline MitchMiller

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  • Posts: 471
Re: Unfair income ranking denies AIDS drugs to many
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2006, 11:55:55 PM »
For those that have the ability to give, Aid For AIDS is a charity that helps supply meds for primarily people in Central and South America.  They claim they can provide meds for about $50 US / month.  I found it surprising to read the ARV treatment in Mexico costs $8K when a major Mexican pharmacy used to sell meds for much less than that on the internet.  However, this co. is now out-of-business... hmmm probably the victim of the world police of Big Pharma.

 


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