Argentina’s Health Ministry has announced that in partnership with the Brazilian government they plan to produce their own anti-AIDS drugs in an effort to lower the cost of treatment.
The construction of a $10 million jointly owned plant, possibly to be located in Argentina, will begin within a few months.
The announcement was made following a meeting in Brasilia between Health Minister Gines Gonzales and his Brazilian counterpart, Jose Saraiva Felipe.
Both countries already provide free medication and treatment to all HIV-positive patients.
Gonzalez says they aim to produce the most expensive treatment items in order to be able to provide the best for those who need it.
In recent years, by threatening to break patents and locally produce copycat versions, the Brazilian government has successfully forced foreign-owned drug companies to lower prices on AIDS medicines on several occasions.
Brazil currently makes some anti-AIDS drugs that are not covered by patents and has agreed with Argentina to conduct joint research to develop drugs.
Health official have long argued that paying for medication is cheaper in the long run than having people in intensive care in public hospitals.
Brazil is justly proud of it’s AIDS program which has helped bring about a fall in the spread of the virus.
At present Argentina spends about $60 million a year to treat some 30,000 patients while Brazil provides treatment for 160,000 people.
The joint drug venture will also produce drugs to treat the deadly Chagas disease, transmitted by a blood-sucking parasite, and leishmaniasis, a skin disease also caused by an insect.
According to the United Nations, as many as 1.8 million Latin Americans are infected with the HIV-AIDS virus, with Brazil, Argentina and Colombia the worst affected.
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD