In the Asia-Pacific region we work in Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, China and India.
Despite an increase in antiretroviral treatment coverage (39%), the region continues to lag behind the global average of 47%. Additionally, the annual number of new HIV infections is 50% higher than the annual increase in the number of people receiving ART. Most of the people who are on treatment do not have access to the newer generation of treatment regimens.f
HIV programs in the region depend heavily on international funding, which has been decreasing since 2010. Within the funds available, there is an increasing trend in spending on ART, even if the pace is too slow to reach universal access coverage in most countries.
In recent years, the European Union and the United States have proposed the inclusion of TRIPS-plus provisions in bi- and multilateral, and free-trade agreements (FTAs) with countries in the region. If adopted, these provisions would adversely impact access to generic medicines, including antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.
In light of the increasing numbers of people who require ART, decreasing funding, and increasing prices of ART, all avenues for generic competition must remain open in the region to ensure universal access to treatment for people living with HIV.
Legal space has been created for countries to produce and procure generic medicines through the flexibilities described in the 2001 Doha Declaration on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement and Public Health. However, most countries in the region have not yet made full use of these flexibilities.
Our partner, Asia-Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (APN+), has been raising awareness, both regionally and globally, of the funding crisis and the impact of FTAs on access to medicines. It held a global meeting back in 2011 in partnership with ITPC, MSF and TreatAsia to seek endorsement of the Bangkok Declaration against FTAs. Organizations that signed up declared their united “opposition to the increasingly rapid spread of FTAs that put the profits of multinational pharmaceutical companies ahead of people’s right to health around the world.”
APN+ is actively involved in challenging drug patents, including the patent application for a new Hepatitis C drug. Back in 2014, APN+ joined two Indian groups in filing a pre-grant opposition to sofosbuvir, a drug also used in Hepatitis C treatment. The application is still pending.