The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said it has held a meeting with nine pharmaceutical companies to negotiate cuts in the price of antiretroviral drugs used to treat AIDS.
The CDC said yesterday it expects them to set an example of social responsibility in the industry and to contribute positively to sustaining treatment programs that the government has been carrying out for years.
The CDC said that several drug companies agreed to lower prices by 2.1 percent to 17.5 percent last year, helping the government to save NT$170 million (US$5.7 million). It added that it expects negotiations to result in another 15 percent price reduction for drugs for AIDS treatments this year.
According to the CDC, in 1997 the government began to assign a budget for the purchase of drugs required for Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), the aggressive treatment regimens used to suppress the HIV viral load and maintain the function of patients’ immune systems.
The financial burden was transferred to the National Health Insurance in 1998, but was again shouldered by the government in 2006, and has since remained that way.
With the cumulative increase in the number of surviving patients, government expenditure on treatments and drugs has been rising at a pace of 18 percent a year, the center said. Last year alone, approximately NT$3 billion was spent on AIDS treatments, NT$2.58 billion of which was for drugs.
Most of the antiretroviral drugs are still patented and are thus expensive, the CDC said.