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Free Content What Strategies to Boost Production of Affordable Fixed-Dose Anti-Retroviral Drug Combinations for Children in the Developing World?

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Background: No more than 8% of HIV positive children needing treatment in low- and middle-income countries have access to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). Children presently account for about 4% of all treated patients, while for equitable access they should make up at least 13%.

Aims: This study explores key issues, implications and interaction dynamics to boost production of easy-to-use and affordable fixed-dose combination (FDC) ARVs for children in the developing world. Potentials for equitable solutions are examined including priority steps and actions, appropriate treatment options and reliable forecasting methods for paediatric ARVs, as well as combination incentives to generic companies against market unattractiveness and enforced intellectual property (IP) rights. Moreover, implementation strategies to enhance the development and production of affordable ARV paediatric formulations and appropriate supply systems to ensure availability are investigated.

Results: The current market for FDC paediatric ARVs is already substantial and will only grow with improved and scaled up diagnosis and monitoring of children. This provides an argument for immediate increase of production and development of FDC ARVs for children. These formulations must be low cost and included in the list of Essential Medicines to avoid children continuing to lag behind in access to treatment. Access-oriented, long-term drug policy strategies with the ability to pass muster of governments, the UN system, as well as generic and research-based enterprises are needed to let children gain expanded and sustained access to FDC ARVs. Under the requirements listed above, IP-bound Voluntary License (VL) flexibilities do appear, if coupled with substantial combination incentives to generic firms, as a fitting tool into the needs. Policies must consider enhancing human resource capacity in the area of caregivers and social and health workers aiming to spread correct information and awareness on effectiveness and rationale of FDC ARVs for children. Policies should urge that paediatric ARV treatment programmes entwine with extant interventions on prevention of mother-to-child transmission, as well as with HIV treatment initiatives focused on mothers and household members. Policies, again, should consider centralising functions and pooling resources to help overcome drug supply barriers. WHO's brokering role in VL-based agreements between wealthy and developing country industries, as well as its technical guidance in setting international standards should not be waived while looking for sustained access to optimised ARV treatments for children. Strategies discussed in this paper, while taking unavoidability of marketing and profit rules into account, look closely into the trade and drug policy directions of China and India according to frontier crossing implications of their IP management trends as well as their multi-faceted penetration strategies of both the wealthy and under-served markets the world over.

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Keywords: AIDS; Paediatric HIV Formulations; antiretroviral treatment; non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI); protease inhibitors

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Infectious Disease Division,Pistoia Hospital, Piazza Giovanni XXIII 1, Pistoia, Italy.

Publication date: 01 March 2007

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  • Current HIV Research aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments of HIV research. We invite comprehensive review articles and novel, pioneering work in the basic and clinical fields on all areas of HIV research, including virus replication and gene expression, HIV assembly, virus-cell interaction, viral pathogenesis, epidemiology and transmission, anti-retroviral therapy and adherence, drug discovery, the latest developments in HIV/AIDS vaccines and animal models, mechanisms and interactions with AIDS related diseases, social and public health issues related to HIV disease, and prevention of viral infection. Each issue of the journal contains a series of timely in-depth reviews and original research written by leaders in the field covering a range of current topics on HIV research. Periodically, the journal will invite guest editors to devote an issue on a particular area of HIV research of great interest that increases our understanding of the virus and its complex interaction with the host.
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