Glaxo drastically lowers prices for AZT in developing countries

May 1, 1998

Pharmaceutical Representative

HIV-infected pregnant mothers in developing countries will be better able to afford Retrovir® (zidovudine, or AZT), thanks to a recent decision made by the drug's manufacturer.

HIV-infected pregnant mothers in developing countries will be better able to afford Retrovir® (zidovudine, or AZT), thanks to a recent decision made by the drug's manufacturer.

Glaxo Wellcome, Research Triangle Park, NC, announced that it will lower prices on the product to help stem the disproportionate frequency of transmission of HIV from mothers to children in places such as Uganda, Chile and Vietnam.

According to the World Health Organization, 90% of the 21.8 million adults and 830,000 children infected with HIV/AIDS live in developing countries. Effective new drugs are commonly too expensive for many patients in these countries, and this prohibits health care providers from treating HIV and AIDS as aggressively as they could. Social and environmental factors, such as lack of health education, prenatal care, water and appropriate amounts of nutritious food, have also contributed to an inability to prevent and treat the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Glaxo Wellcome spent two years in private discussions with the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/ AIDS, the World Health Organization, various governments and other organizations before reaching its decision. In a prepared statement, the company announced it will also provide developing countries with support in areas such as distribution, packaging, patient education and ongoing research.

International agencies and governments will be responsible for creating programs with appropriate frameworks to take full advantage of the more economical pricing system. Pricing reductions may vary by country, Glaxo Wellcome said.

Recent studies of effective ways to control HIV transmission between infected mothers and their babies prompted the company to act. Researchers in Thailand found that infected mothers who received short courses of Retrovir therapy during the last three to four weeks of pregnancy and during labor were 51% less likely to transmit HIV to their infants than those who received placebos. PR