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    Concerns Raised To Global Fund Over Panel On Tiered Medicines Pricing

    Published on 10 December 2013 @ 10:24 pm

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – Public groups this week urged Mark Dybul, head of the Geneva-based Global Fund for HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to reconsider the establishment of a panel to look at tiered pricing for middle income countries, potentially allowing companies to charge them higher prices. And separately, activists reported on progress in South Africa’s HIV strategy.

    The Global Fund and other funders have had a significant presence at an event here this week, credited with working to advance public health in Africa. Global Fund Executive Director Mark Dybul is among hundreds of health workers and others in Cape Town for the 7-11 December International Conference on AIDS And STIs In Africa (ICASA).

    But a recent announcement by the Global Fund that it would establish a “blue ribbon” panel to look at tiered pricing for middle income countries has met with a sharp response from public health advocates who see it as a step backward in medicines pricing and distribution.

    At a Global Fund event here yesterday, an AIDS activist from Zambia raised the new pricing initiative with Dybul, according to participants. According to an MSF representative, Dybul clarified that it would only be for middle income countries and that generics companies would be involved in the negotiations.

    Then last night, AIDS activists met with Dybul and told him that tiered pricing does not reflect the last 12 years of scaling up HIV treatment by bringing down the price of ARVs through generic competition and the threat of compulsory licences, Sharonann Lynch, HIV/TB advisor for the MSF Access Campaign, told Intellectual Property Watch.

    The Global Fund spokesperson could not be reached for comment by press time.

    The message activists took away from Dybul last night is that the Global Fund will take their concerns into account, Lynch said.

    “We were shocked to hear” about the Global Fund plan for a panel, Lynch said. Tiered pricing would allow companies to charge higher prices to middle income countries. “We’re concerned it would lock in prices instead of letting genuine competition bring prices [down],” she said.

    “We are concerned about people sitting around the table setting prices for countries that might be arbitrary instead of based on generic competition,” Lynch said. “We don’t want to give companies a free pass to charge more in middle income countries.”

    Lynch gave an example of the recently developed first new TB drug in 60 years being offered to middle income countries for US$3,000 per six months’ treatment, compared with US$900 per six months for low income countries. This would be out of reach for most in the middle income countries, she said.

    Tiered pricing represents a “reversal of practices to date,” she added, and the blue ribbon panel presupposes a solution, she said.

    Civil Society Report on South Africa’s HIV Strategy

    Meanwhile, public health advocacy groups held a press conference on AIDS treatment issues, including a re-launch of report on the progress of South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, STIs and TB. The at times sharply worded report applauds the country’s “remarkable” turnaround on the issue, but finds remaining cause for concern. AIDS related mortality has come down dramatically but there are still over 150,000 deaths each year.

    “Denial of the existence of HIV may be a thing of the past; denial of access to ARVs might be a thing of the past; but denial of the scale of the underlying challenges can be just as deadly for many as their predecessors,” the report said. Authors of the report were the Treatment Action Campaign and Section 27.

    The point of the review was to try to fill a gap for an independent, critical, analytical voice that can promote a frontline view … on the actual progress of the strategic plan,” the TAC presenter told the packed press conference. It combines that perspective with some of South Africa’s best experts.

    The intent is to ensure that people do not fall into a sense of complacency that all is going well in the fight against HIV and AIDS until it is over.

    There is no official evaluation and monitoring function in the plan, he said, which means “we accept a lot as truth” the reports they receive, such as the figure that some 3.4 million people are on antiretrovirals. In fact, that may be the number who started the treatment, but it is not known if that is the number still on it.

    Meanwhile, there is a concern about attempts to mute independent voices on the issue, TAC said today.

    TAC reported that only about 54 percent of people in the Free State province who should be are on treatment. In a related report also issued today, TAC and others reported on “stock outs,” where treatments are not available. The most severely affected location noted in the report was Free State province, where reports come in nearly every day and orders are backlogged by months at the main depot.

    A TAC representative today reported that AIDS workers in a region of the country have faced threats and confiscation of their laptops by local government officials trying to find the source of leaked information. One activist received anonymous death threats, and as the TAC representative said, “anyone who lives in South Africa knows that political intolerance does extend to assassination.”

     

    William New may be reached at wnew@ip-watch.ch.

     

    Comments

    1. Kush Naker says:

      Tiered pricing seems like such a massive step backwards compared to generics policies it’s bizzare that an organisation as big as the Global Fund would turn to it. Would be interesting to find out more about the motivations that led to such an announcement. Surie Moon also posted a good blog highlighting the evidence behind the limitations of tiered pricing vs generics: http://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/2013/12/01/is-the-global-fund-heading-backwards-on-access-to-medicines/

    2. Global Fund tiered pricing panel for ARVs, other health commodities raises questions | Science Speaks: HIV & TB News says:

      […] little more than a week later, though, according to this post on Intellectual Property Watch, an activist from Zambia felt the need to remind Dybul of that same […]

    3. Global Fund And Tiered Medicines Pricing Under Debate | Intellectual Property Watch says:

      […] the 30th Board Meeting of the Global Fund, civil society reacted strongly against the initiative (IPW, Public Health, 10 December 2013). Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) […]


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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

    6. You understand and agree that the discussion forums are to be used only for non-commercial purposes. You may not solicit funds, promote commercial entities or otherwise engage in commercial activity in our discussion forums.

    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

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