UNAIDS “4th 90”: Affordability of Medicines

UNAIDS has seen Argentina’s proposal to add a 4th “90” to its 90-90-90 strategy as a model to be implemented worldwide

UNAIDS’s Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, visited Argentina and Chile in his first time visit to Latin American region as part of a global tour to promote 90-90-90 strategy which focuses on the adoption of new goals for testing and treatment people living with HIV/AIDS.

The strategy that UNAIDS promotes in its “first 90” aims to diagnose at least 90% of PLHIV [in Argentina oficial data indicates that 30% of PLHIV do not know their serological state].

The strategy also includes a “second 90” that poses a big challenge for Health Care Systems since it proposes that 90% of diagnosed people start treatment from the “minute zero” of the diagnosis, meaning a significant increase in the number of people who would promptly be eligible to start treatment.

FGEP and allies have been showing evidence that due to patent monopoly multinational companies impose their HIV medicines at exorbitant prices. So then, the “second 90” represents a huge impact on public health budget allocated for the free and universal procurement of HIV medicines.

The “third 90” proposes sustained undetectable viral load (90% of people in treatment to have undetectable viral load) and its realization depends in great measure of the achievement of the other 90s.

In the attempt to address the problem of unaffordable prices, FGEP proposed the Ministry of Health to include a “fourth 90” in the strategy, for 90% of medicines and other commodities to be acquired at fair prices. This goal will guarantee availability and access to HIV medicines, diagnosis supplies and prevention for all.

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The “fourth 90” was agreed in a national meeting with participation of PLHIV, most affected communities, other civil society representatives, members of the scientific community, UN agencies and Ministry of Heath high level decision makers. A national consensus document (in spanish) was issued in which sectors committed “… to promote and defend TRIPS health safeguards,including the issuance of compulsory licenses, in order to favor the entry of generic quality medicines into national market, leverage public production of medicines and promote other measures that may allow affordable prices of HIV commodities….”

In regards to the consensus, the Minister of Health, Daniel Gollan, declared on the newspaper Página 12 “we talk with the PLHIV we work with and they proposed the last 90 to represent 90% of medicines at affordable prices”

After holding a meeting with Sidibé, that took place in the Ministry of Health, Minister Gollan insisted on the adoption and importance of the “fourth 90” and of the investment on research and development for innovative products, and pointed out the recent creation of the National Agency of Public Laboratories in Argentina. Furthermore, Sidibe complimented on the proposal and expressed that it is a strategy that should be implemented worldwide.

High prices limit access and put at risk Health Systems and, thus, the life of millions of people.