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Health Aff (Millwood). 2012 Jul;31(7):1429-38. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2012.0210.

Low-cost generic drugs under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief drove down treatment cost; more are needed.

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Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.


The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was originally authorized in 2003 with the goal of supporting HIV prevention, treatment, and care within fifteen focus countries in the developing world. By September 2011 nearly 13 million people around the world were receiving HIV/AIDS-related care through PEPFAR, and 3.9 million were receiving antiretroviral treatment. However, in the early years of the program, access to antiretroviral drugs was hampered by the lack of a licensing process that the US government recognized for generic versions of these medications. Ultimately, the obstacle to approval of generic antiretroviral drugs was removed, which led to PEPFAR's considerable success at making these treatments widely available. This article outlines PEPFAR's evolving use of generic antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV in the developing world, highlights ongoing initiatives to increase access to generic antiretrovirals, and points to the need for mechanisms that will speed up the approval of new generic drugs. The striking decline in antiretroviral treatment costs, from $1,100 per person annually in 2004 to $335 per person annually in 2012, is due to the availability of effective generic antiretrovirals. Given growing resistance to existing drugs and the planned expansion of treatment to millions more people, access to newer generations of generic antiretrovirals will have to be expedited.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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