Lower ARV price to benefit S Africa, increase recipient numbers

22nd September 2017 By: Sashnee Moodley - Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

Lower ARV price to benefit S Africa, increase recipient numbers

Photo by: Reuters

A new antiretroviral (ARV) pricing agreement reached by the South African government, international organisations and agencies will ensure that more people will have access to treatment, while saving South Africa nearly R12-billion over the next six years.

A statement released by the Department of Health on Friday revealed that the single-pill HIV treatment regimen containing dolutegravir (DTG) will be available to low and middle-income countries at a price of $75 per person, a year.

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi said that the large volumes of ARVs purchased by South Africa were used to leverage the decrease in pricing.

“The agreement is 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. South Africa will introduce the new fixed dose combination of three drugs, Tenofovir, Lamivudine and TLD in April 2018,” said Motsoaledi.

Dolutegravir is an extremely effective antiretroviral with 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.

Parties involved in the pricing agreement included South Africa together with Kenya, in partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNITAID, the UK’s Department for International Development, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the US Agency for International Development, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“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,” said Motsoaledi.