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HIV and AIDS is an epidemic that is spread all over the world. It is caused by a virus. The virus weakens some of the cells in the blood. This disease was first discovered in New York. Over the years, it spread to the other parts of the world. Despite the fact that this disease has been around for so many years, there is still no known cure. However, there have been developments of drugs that control the effects of the symptoms. These drugs were initially very expensive and only very few people could afford them. However, over the years, there have been rising competition in the production of these antiretroviral (ARVS). As a result, the prices have gone down and drugs are now affordable to patients in developing countries. HIV diagnosis is done via a blood test, which remains the most effect method of this diagnosis. Once the cells are completely weakened, the patient dies.
There are very many deaths recorded each year resulting from HIV and AIDS all over the world. As a result, researchers are highly determined to come up with a cure for this epidemic. There have been many attempts by pharmacists all over the world. However, there have been no success this far. The main reason as to why the drugs that have been produced are not effective has been established as being due to the fact that there are already existing resistant mutants. This, therefore, causes treatment failure. However, there have been great improvements in the management of HIV infection over the years (Project Inform, 1998).
There has been intense involvement of both the public and the corporate sector in the production of the HIV drugs. The corporate interest in the drug production could be entirely business oriented. This is because their main aim is to maximize profits through selling large volumes of the products that they deal in. On the other hand, the public interest is mainly to save lives. This is because it has already been established that numerous deaths are as a result of the infection. Therefore, in their bid to prevent these deaths, the public has continuously involved in the process of finding the cure for HIV infection (Carel, 2010).
Drug production is relatively expensive. This is especially due to the research process. Companies, therefore, tend to drift away from the production of new drugs due to the related costs. However, there are the intellectual property rights that protect companies that decide to carry out these researches. The protection offered is such that competitors are barred from getting to the markets within a specified time. This grace period given to the companies is to ensure that the company that produced the new drug is able to recover the costs incurred during the research. As a result, such a company will often tend to sell the drugs to the wealthy part of the market. This implies that the poor part of the society will be secluded from accessing the drugs due to the costs.
HIV and AIDS are especially spread in developing countries. The societies in these countries are poor and are not able to access the required drugs. Though the public is really in need of the drugs, they lack equal access to the drugs. As a result, the epidemic strives on in these societies. There have been attempts by governments to find a solution to such crisis. In case there is an emergency need for a drug in the market to benefit the society, the government may seek voluntary licensing from the company that is the holder of the patent. This will mean that the government is in a position to give the required drug to the society at a subsidized price.
In the extreme cases whereby societal needs are not adequately met, the government may result to compulsory licensing. Under this license, the government has the power to give itself authority to produce and distribute drugs if during an emergency; the company that possesses the patent rights continues to charge exorbitant prices. This was applied by Taiwan during the avian flu. Compulsory licensing is highly beneficial in the case of public health emergencies.
There has been the formation of several foundations to ensure that the corporate HIV drug production matches the public needs of the HIV patients. These foundations include the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (CHAI), the founder being former US president, Bill Clinton. Through this foundation, there has been a notable 50% reduction in the price of the first line treatments, 90%reduction in the prices of children medication and 30% decrease in the prices of the second line treatment. These achievements by this foundation have been of great help to developing countries’ patients. This, also, is a solution to the gap created by the public versus corporation approach. Former President George. W. Bush also proposed that a better solution would be negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies to enable the production of cheaper generic drugs. This proposal was presented through President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Through this foundation 78 generic drugs were produced that were more affordable in low income countries (Coriat, 2008).
Generally, it is now evidently clear that governments need to come up with a possible method to strike a balance between societal needs and pharmaceutical innovations. This is especially important with rising levels of HIV infected people all over the world. Unless action is taken soon, it might be too late to save the world from this epidemic.
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