Breakthrough new medicines to be made available for low- and middle-income countries

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The UNITAID Executive Board has committed $160 million in new grants, including investments to ensure low- and middle-income populations have access to new high performing treatments for hepatitis C and drug-resistant tuberculosis, and the largest-yet global programme for seasonal malaria chemoprevention. These innovative investments will reduce prices, overcome market barriers to access for patients, and generate crucial data on new products to speed up their introduction for those most in need.

A grant has been made to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) for the first major global scale-up for low- and middle-income countries of the new highly-anticipated hepatitis C medicines. It is one of two initial investments for UNITAID in this viral disease, and will lead to substantially larger hepatitis C cure rates for people living with HIV through reducing medicine prices to $500-1000 per patient. The current cost of one particular new and extremely effective hepatitis C treatment in the United States is $84,000 per patient. (more details below)

“Until recently, the only treatment for hepatitis C involved an expensive combination of injections and tablets that lasted a year with limited efficacy,” said Dr Philippe Douste-Blazy, Chairman of the UNITAID Executive Board. “Treatments which have recently been made available can cure the disease in weeks but currently have a heavy price tag. Our investment will lower the prices of these treatments and therefore increase access, and is a decision the public health community has been waiting months for.”

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