Ten Stories that Mattered in Access to medicines in 2011

2011 marks the ten-year anniversary of two events that have helped shape people’s ability in developing countries to access quality, affordable medical care.
First, the signing of the Doha Declaration, in which governments affirmed the need to prioritize health over trade: access to affordable medicines over intellectual property rights. But a decade later, the struggle to access medicines in developing countries continues. Second, the ten-year anniversary of the decision to create a “war chest” to fight the developing world’s biggest killer diseases: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Access Campaign was created just over ten years ago in order to try, with others, to give patients the best care we can. Ten years on, with real achievements under our belt, the battle is not yet won—there is still so much to fight for.


Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network Forum 2012 on access to quality medicines


The next EPN Forum will take place from 21st to 23rd March 2012, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme of discussions will be ‘Access to quality medicines: priority needs, priority actions for today and tomorrow’. All EPN members, partners and stakeholders are invited.Participation fee is 200USD for EPN members (including accommodation and conference package) and 150 USD for non-members (covering only conference package). For EPN members residing in Addis, participation fee is only 50 USD.


The best anti-malaria drug made available more economically and for all patients


The most effective anti-malaria drug can now be produced inexpensively and in large quantities. This means that it will be possible to provide medication for the 225 million malaria patients in developing countries at an affordable price. Researchers have developed a very simple process for the synthesis of artemisinin, the active ingredient that pharmaceutical companies could only obtain from plants up to now.


Should Patents on Pharmaceuticals Be Extended to Encourage Innovation?

Pharmaceuticals have improved and extended the lives of millions of people. But the many advances over the past couple of decades haven't come without controversy, much of it centering on the massive profits the industry makes on blockbuster drugs. The drug makers say those profits fund the research that produces breakthrough treatments.  Critics question that assumption. There's no proof, they say, of a link between patent life and innovation. In their view, drug companies focus on developing the most marketable drugs instead of the most urgently needed medications. So extending patents would serve mainly to boost drug companies' profits, not to encourage the innovation needed to address the world's unmet medical needs.


Local production of ARVs in Kenya

A Kenyan pharmaceutical company has been given the green light by the World Health Organization (WHO) to start producing antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, which could result in significant savings for the government's growing treatment programme. Earlier in November, WHO granted prequalification certification to the company, allowing it to manufacture the combination ARV drug, Lamizido. Certification means international organizations providing ARVs can also procure the medication from this company, and that use of the drug in the state's treatment programme is approved. Lamizido, one of 255 drugs certified by WHO, is a combination of Zidovudine and Lamivudine, and will be produced in 150 and 300 gram doses. The manufacturer Universal Corporation estimates that the cost of the drug will be cheaper by at least 30 percent than what the government buys currently from foreign manufacturers.


Resistance rate higher for regimens with
efavirenz and AZT


HIV treatment regimens that include both efavirenz and AZT have the highest rates of resistance, according to Swiss research published in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases. The findings underline the greater durability of antiretroviral drug combinations that include tenofovir rather than one of the older nucleoside analogues like AZT, and are of particular relevance to low and middle-income countries considering the trade-offs between cost and durability of various first-line antiretroviral regimens. During six years of follow-up, 16% of patients treated with a combination including efavirenz (Sustiva) and AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir), developed resistance compared to 5% to 9% of patients taking alternative combinations. Two-thirds of all cases of resistance emerged when a patient had a viral load between 50 and 500 copies/ml.


Free online database on health systems

Health Systems Evidence is the world's most comprehensive, free access point for evidence to support policymakers, stakeholders and researchers interested in how to strengthen or reform health systems or in how to get cost-effective programmes, services and drugs to those who need them. This continuously updated repository of syntheses of research has expanded dramatically since its launch less than two years ago. The redeveloped website offers new search functionalities, and is available in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. Other enhancements include a filter that allows users to identify evidence targeting low- and middle-income countries, and a customizable evidence service that will provide monthly e-mail alerts identifying new documents available in the database specific to someone’s individual interests. Registration to the database is free. 


Scholarships to the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Belgium

L’Institut de Médecine Tropical se trouve à Anvers, Belgique et est considéré parmi les meilleurs instituts dans le monde pour la formation, la recherche et l‟asistance dans la médecine tropicale et les soins de santé dans les pays en voie de développement. L‟institute offre un large nombre de bourses pour étudiants de différents programmes d‟étude. Parmi les bourses (partielles ou complètes) sont Master en Santé Publique - Politiques et Management des Systèmes de Santé, Master en Santé Publique - Contrôle des Maladies, Formation Courte en Politiques de Santé, Formation Courte en Management Stratégique de Systèmes de Santé.


KENYA- New guidelines follow recall of faulty HIV test

En novembre, l’OMS a retiré, avec effet immédiat, le kit de dépistage rapide de VIH Standard Diagnostics Bioline® HIV 1/2 3.0 de sa liste de tests rapides homologués. L’alerte a été lancée après l’échec de Bioline aux tests d’assurance qualité. Au Kenya on estime qu’un million de kits étaient en circulation au moment du retrait, soit environ un dixième de tous les kits VIH disponibles dans le pays. Sauf dans le cas des tests sur les bébés, les résultats des tests VIH ont toujours été instantanés et c’est ce qu’il y avait de bien. S’il faut attendre le résultat en cas d’incertitude, cela pourrait être extrêmement angoissant pour certains. On peut craindre également l’impact qu’aura le retrait sur la confiance du public dans le dépistage du VIH.


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