Wall Street Journal (10.23.03) - Thursday, October 23, 2003
Former President Bill Clinton is today announcing an AIDS
program that tackles both high drug prices and low quality
health infrastructures in the developing world. Engineered by
Clinton advisor Ira Magaziner, the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS
Initiative agreement will cut the price of a commonly used
triple-drug regimen by almost a third, to about 38 cents a day
per patient, from current developing world discounted rates
for generic (55 cents) and brand-name ($1.54) drugs. The price
of nevirapine will be cut by almost half.
The companies involved - Indian firms Ranbaxy Laboratories,
Cipla and Matrix Laboratories, and South Africa's Aspen
Pharmacare Holdings - opened their books and manufacturing
processes to a group of Clinton business advisors. Then the
companies and advisors hunted for ways to cut costs, starting
with raw materials suppliers in China and ending with the
Under Magaziner's supervision, the foundation also helped
several Caribbean states and three African countries prepare
detailed national drug treatment plans, including preparing
budgets for hiring and training nurses and doctors, building
and upgrading laboratories and clinics, developing patient-
information systems, and improving drug warehousing and
To pay for the program, Clinton has secured partial funding by
personally lobbying leaders of rich nations and has raised
more than $1 million from private sources. The money will go
directly to the governments receiving assistance. Rwanda,
Mozambique and Tanzania have partial funding from sources
including the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS,
Tuberculosis and Malaria.
National treatment plans were key to the deal, because the
program promised drug makers large volumes of patients over
time - up to 1.5 million by 2008.
Magaziner said he first approached patent-holding
pharmaceutical firms "because President Clinton believes in
intellectual property." So far, none of the Western companies
is involved. Bristol-Myers Squibb said it never received a
proposal, and Merck said it is in initial talks.
While there is a chance that the Western companies could
charge the initiative with patent infringement, in the past
such attempts have damaged their public images.