Published Online: Friday, December 1, 2006

The US government has increased its spending on less-costly generic medicines to help fight AIDS in poorer countries around the world. US regulators have determined that generics will account for 70% of AIDS drugs in 3 key countries being assisted by the United States through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Last year, only 11% of all AIDS drugs for all 15 countries enrolled in the program were generics.

US officials hesitated to use more generic medications because they wanted each one to be safety tested by the FDA. Ambassador Mark R. Dybul, head of PEPFAR, stated that the government "always has wanted the lowest-cost product [for the program], as long as it was safe and effective." In the past 12 months, the FDA approved 29 generic AIDS medications, including 8 formulations for children. Officials estimate that the overall switch to generics will result in a 20% cost reduction for the program. Dybul said that 14 of the 15 participating countries are now buying generics, and the last one is in negotiations for generic purchasing.

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