Access to Antiretroviral Therapy in Uganda: Kampala, June 2002

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This research is an attempt to understand the current situation in Uganda int erms of access to ARVs. It describes what role generic alternatives to branded ARVs have played in reducing prices and increasing access to antiretroviral therapies (ART). In addition, it reviews the laws governing pharmaceutical patients in Uganda, as well as the newly proposed Industrial Property Bill 2002 (IP Bill). Finally, the thoughts and comments of some HIV-infected patients regarding affordability of medications are also included.
    Access to Antiretroviral Therapy in Uganda Kampala, June 2002 Prepared for Oxfam GB by: Astrid Martínez-Jones Independent Consultant, Project Planning and Evaluation  Norbert Anyama Pharmacist, Teaching Assistant at the Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Makerere University The research project was coordinated by Dr. Mohga Kamal Smith and Dereje Wordofa Oxfam GB  Executive Summary Recent (2002) estimates place the number of HIV-infected Ugandans at between 1.5 and 2 million. According to the United Nations AIDS Programme (UNAIDS), between 5,000 and 10,000 HIV-infected people are currently on antiretroviral therapy, which includes patients on  both branded and generic drugs. In an effort to increase access to antiretrovirals (ARVs) and to improve the quality of care and treatment of HIV-infected patients, the United Nations has introduced two initiatives in Uganda: the Drug Access Initiative (DAI) in 1998 and the Accelerating Access Initiative (AAI) in 2000. The latter emerged out of an agreement in May 2000 between the UN and five pharmaceutical companies to rapidly increase access to ARVs in developing countries, primarily through price reductions. Significant price reductions, however, were not observed in Uganda until the importation of generic ARVs in October 2000 by the Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC). JCRC is the largest provider of ARVs in Uganda (it dispenses approximately 40-70 per cent of all ARVs administered, both branded and generic), and has approximately 3,400 active patients. In 2001, shortly after generics were introduced, the number of patients accessing ARVs at JCRC increased from 962 to 3,000; this represented an increase of 200 per cent. All but one of the generic ARVs currently imported have recently been registered with the Ugandan Drug Authority. Prior to registration, JCRC imported the drugs on a provisional import permit, which it still uses to import Triomune, a generic combination product made by Indian pharmaceuticals company Cipla. Médecins sans Frontières – France (MSF-F), a medical and relief NGO, is also importing generic ARVs for patients registered in its pilot HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) Programme in the northwestern town of Arua. Legislation and international agreements also affect access to medicines. Uganda, like other members of the World Trade Organisation, is obliged under the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement to protect all categories of intellectual property, including pharmaceuticals. In an attempt to comply with TRIPS, the Ugandan Law Reform Committee has drafted an Industrial Property Bill (IP Bill). Some argue that the Bill is  premature, as Uganda has until 2006 to comply with TRIPS. The proposed IP Bill does not take advantage of the 2016 extension to patent pharmaceuticals  provided by the Doha Declaration. It does, however, potentially provide other important safeguards, such as compulsory licensing, government use, and Article 30 exceptions. Critics of the Bill say it is confusing and the terms it uses need further clarification to take full advantage of the Doha Declaration. This is especially true with regard to compulsory licensing. In conclusion, while access to ARVs has increased, mainly due to price reductions led by the importation of generics, the great majority of HIV-infected Ugandans still cannot afford to pay for therapy. The least expensive triple-drug regimen available in Uganda, generic Triomune, costs US$40 per month. This can represent 30 to 90 per cent of an average monthly income of $50-$150 in Kampala. In rural areas incomes are much lower. Other HAART combinations – especially those involving a protease inhibitor-based regimen – are even costlier. 2   In order to increase access to ARVs (whether branded or generic), a stronger government commitment to providing access to treatment is required. The government and the international community should encourage further price reductions through generic competition and through the adoption of intellectual property rights that maximise the use of the Doha Declaration, including the extension of the grace period to 2016. The international community should enhance the generic production of ARVs for export, enabling countries such as Uganda, which has limited manufacturing capacity of its own, to import generics from other countries. The government should also increase investment in health services, including the provision of technical training to health workers and the expansion of geographical access, with support from donors, including the Global Fund on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. 3  Table of Contents Abbreviations 6 1. Introduction 7 2. Methods 7 3. UNAIDS HIV/AIDS Drug Initiatives 8 3.1. Drug Access Initiative (DAI) 8  3.2. Accelerating Access Initiative (AAI) 9   4. Price and Access to Antiretrovirals 10 4.1. Coverage at Five Treatment Centres in Kampala 10  4.2. Importation of Generics: Price Reductions, Increased Access 11  4.3. Common ARV Combinations, Prices, and Affordability 15   5. Additional Barriers to Access 18 6. Legislation Relating to Pharmaceuticals 18 6.1. National Drug Policy 19  6.2. Patent Laws in Uganda 20  6.3. Proposed Industrial Property Bill 21  6.4. Current Government Status Regarding Doha Declaration 24   7. Interviews with Patients Accessing Antiretrovirals 25 8. Limitations to the Study 31 9. Conclusions 32 References 33 Attachments 34 1. Medical Access – Uganda Limited price lists (May 2000 – March 2002) 2. Joint Clinic Research Centre price lists (May 2000 – April 2002) 3. Current Star Pharmaceuticals price list 4. Patient Questionnaire 5. Patents (Amendment) Bill 2002 6. Industrial Property Bill 2000 4
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