Today, on World AIDS Day, President Barack Obama spoke of an “AIDS-free generation.” It’s an audacious and wonderful goal, aiming to build on the decade-long revolution in treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Dramatically lowered prices for AIDS drugs driven by generic competition have enabled that revolution, which has already saved the lives of millions. President Obama agrees that “treatment is also prevention.” New science suggests that treatment can reduce the risk of transmission by 96 percent.
Unfortunately, patent monopolies and high treatment costs for newer medicines threaten to block the remarkable progress already achieved and impede the goal of “getting to zero.”
To continue the treatment revolution and seek an end to AIDS, we need to expand generic competition.
Case in point: the critical AIDS drug known as Kaletra (lopinavir + ritonavir), sold by the Chicago-based pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories. Abbott’s anti-competitive actions are keeping prices for this important medicine high and limiting the ability of donors and governments to scale up treatment.
Now, a global coalition of health groups is advocating measures to crack down on Abbott’s unjust activities and facilitate competition in the market for Kaletra.