Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — When overseas funding for HIV/AIDS treatment pills starts to drop as the country enters the group of middle-income countries, the health ministry must involve itself in international bidding wars to secure purchase of the pills at 15-17 per cent lower than the normal rate, bringing more hope to HIV patients in the country.
According to Việt Nam’s Administration of HIV/AIDS Control, from 2015, the anti-retroviral drugs were usually provided as drug aid by foreign organisations, including US government-backed President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as support from the Clinton Foundation.
Since these organisations have run programmes to provide ARV drugs in large amounts to a lot of countries over a long time, in order to ensure the same quality of drugs for all recipient countries, they would bulk purchase from the producers for a slightly better price.
From 2015, to make sure that the supply of ARV drugs would not be interrupted, the Government has tasked the health ministry with procuring ARV drugs, using the State budget. Việt Nam’s Administration of HIV/AIDS Control, with the help of international organisations, has managed to negotiate and win bids to buy ARV drugs in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
In 2016, for the first time ever, the department bought 6.4 million 3-in-1 ARV pills – a single one of these 1200mg pills would contain the three types of medications that patients needed – for the price of VNĐ7.299, or US$0.32 (5 per cent VAT already included). Việt Nam has managed to secure a better deal, buying the pills 16.6 per cent cheaper compared with the Global Fund’s purchase price of $0.3681, or 17.8 cheaper against the purchase price of PEPFAR’s $0.3728.
Moving on to 2017, Việt Nam managed to buy 3 million 3-in-1 ARV pills at an even lower price, $0.268, 15 per cent cheaper compared to 2016 and still lower than the purchase prices from the two abovementioned aid agencies.
The HIV/AIDS Control department said that towards the goal of covering 90 per cent of HIV/AIDS patients with affordable treatment regimes, the financial sum would be a burden on the State budget, and any cut would be appreciated.
Dr Kato Masaya, Coordinator for Communicable Disease Group at the WHO Việt Nam Country Office, said WHO considers Việt Nam a highlight in the region in treating HIV/AIDS with ARV, especially its vigorous efforts in implementing WHO’s recommendations on diagnostics and maximising coverage of ARV treatment.
Currently, there are 130,000 Vietnamese patients under treatment with ARV drugs.
According to world experts, in the past decade, the increasingly accessible ARV therapies have helped 150,000 HIV patients escape death and prevent infection in 450,000 people. — VNS