In The News South Africa

SA Health Department announces ARV price breakthrough

JOHANNESBURG, September 22 – The Department of Health announced on Friday that Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in collaboration with a number of international organisations and agencies have reached a breakthrough pricing agreement to accelerate the availability of the first affordable, generic, single-pill HIV treatment regimen containing dolutegravir (DTG).

“I am excited about this innovative agreement which will allow the government of South Africa to accelerate the introduction of the dolutegravir-based fixed-dose combination which will greatly benefit our patients due to its superior therapeutic qualities,” said Motsoaledi in a statement.

The department said that the new fixed dose combination would be available to low and middle-income countries (LMICs) at a reduced price of US$75 per person per year, which is about R988.

“The considerable price reductions could yield savings of up to R11.7 billion over the next six years for us, which means that we can initiate additional patients on treatment with the same amount of resources. Ramping up treatment with good viral suppression will enable us to reach HIV epidemic control more quickly. We are aiming at launching the new tender in April 2018,” Motsoaledi said.

The Health Ministry said that the agreement was expected to accelerate treatment roll-out as part of global efforts to reach all 36.7 million people living with HIV with high-quality antiretroviral therapy.

“The announcement will have profound implications for the HIV treatment programme in South Africa’s public health sector,” the department said.

“The HIV programme has grown from 923,000 patients on treatment in 2009 to 3.9m patients on treatment as of the end of August 2017.  In September 2016, the Minister of Health announced the roll-out of the test and treat initiative with the aim to have 6 million HIV positive patients on treatment by 2022.”

The Ministry said South Africa would introduce the new fixed dose combination of three drugs, Tenofovir, Lamivudine and Dolutegravir (TLD), in April 2018.

“Apart from the financial savings, which will decrease pressure on our national fiscus, its introduction will also have significant benefits for patients. Dolutegravir is a highly effective antiretroviral, which is well tolerated by patients and has fewer side effects. Patients are therefore more likely to be adherent and more likely to be virally suppressed – which means that they are not likely to transmit the virus to others.”

– African News Agency (ANA)

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