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Drug Companies To Boost Efforts To Tackle HIV/AIDS

Secretary-General, Drug Companies Agree To Boost Efforts To Tackle HIV/AIDS

New York, Oct 9 2008 7:10PM

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and top executives from over one dozen global pharmaceutical companies agreed today that greater efforts must be made to combat HIV/AIDS, despite significant strides that have been made in improving access to prevention and treatment.

Attending the meeting were 17 of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, along with representatives from the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

“All participants agreed that increasing access to vaccines, diagnostics and medicines is essential in scaling up prevention and treatment efforts,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued following today’s gathering.

Attendees also emphasized the importance of intellectual property in promoting research and development into new therapeutic and diagnostic options, he said.

The private sector has much to offer in the bid to boost access to prevention and treatment, the Secretary-General noted. “More can be done, especially to address shortages of the health workforce and improve managerial capacities.”

Important progress has been made since 2006, the last time there was a high-level exchange between the UN and drug companies, he said.

The number of people receiving anti-retroviral treatment in low and middle income nations has more than doubled from 1.3 million in 2006 to 3 million by the end of last year. Additionally prices have been slashed for first-line and paediatric antiretroviral drugs, as well as some second-line medicines.

“We noted that despite the gains, the epidemic continues to outstrip our best efforts,” Mr. Ban said.

Only one third of those needing care in poorer nations are receiving it, while every day, for every two people beginning antiretroviral treatment, five more people are infected.

“Collectively, we still have more work to do,” today’s statement noted.

Pharmaceutical companies today pledged to invest more in research and development of new HIV-related medicines; developing affordable means to diagnose HIV and tuberculosis; and prevention technologies, such as vaccines.

For its part, UN agencies committed to continue its advocacy and resource mobilization efforts; enhance WHO’s pre-qualification programme for urgently-needed medicines and diagnostics; and promote information-sharing among the UN, national regulatory authorities and pharmaceutical companies.

ENDS

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