An editorial last year in the Washington Post challenged directors of drug companies to reduce the cost of HIV drugs in poor countries to zero. Here the reproduced editorial is accompanied by a discussion about why it was written and the response to it. We invited comment from one of the named directors and from a man with AIDS who refuses to take antiretroviral drugs until they are available to the public sector in South Africa
Last year I wrote a guest editorial for the Washington Post in which I challenged the world's pharmaceutical companies to cut the cost of HIV drugs to zero in poor countries (see box on next page).1 Here I explain why I wrote it and describe some of the responses it provoked.
- Complex drug regimens, combined with social support, have been used to treat infectious diseases, even in conditions of extreme poverty
- The high costs of drugs can be used as an excuse for poor countries not to construct effective infrastructures for the care of patients with chronic infectious diseases
- Dramatic reductions in the costs of antituberculosis drugs catalysed worldwide action against multiresistant tuberculosis
- The boards and executives of drug companies could catalyse action against the AIDS epidemic by immediately reducing the costs of HIV drugs in poor countries to zero