- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 6, 2004

NEW YORK (Agence France-Presse) — The charitable foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton said yesterday that it has signed deals with three aid agencies to make cut-rate AIDS drugs available to hundreds of thousands of people in the Third World.

Under agreements with the World Bank, UNICEF and the Global Fund, the Clinton Foundation will provide poor nations with access to the cheapest AIDS drugs as well as vastly discounted medical equipment.

The Clinton Foundation has negotiated price breaks of up to 50 percent on antiretroviral drugs with five pharmaceutical companies and discounts of up to 80 percent on medical equipment used in the diagnosis of the disease with five other companies.

It is already providing the reduced-price drugs to 16 African and Caribbean countries through its HIV/AIDS program, but the latest deals would let recipients of World Bank, Global Fund or UNICEF funding take advantage of the cheap drug supply, according to a joint statement from the four parties.

The medicines are critical components of the “first line” AIDS treatments recommended by the World Health Organization, which are available to fewer than 200,000 infected people outside of Brazil. Brazil has authorized generic AIDS drugs.

“With these agreements, we are one step closer to making sure future generations can live without the scourge of AIDS,” Mr. Clinton said in a statement.

“We are hopeful that developing countries and those who support them in the fight against AIDS will take full advantage of this agreement and act quickly to do all they can to help in this fight.”

The foundation pledged to work to get the life-saving medicines to those in need as quickly as possible, subject to the necessary guarantees of payment and the provision of safe distribution channels.

“This initiative will help to get treatment to those most in need — the world’s poorest people,” World Bank President James Wolfensohn said.

The Global Fund, a group committed to fighting diseases, and the World Bank are among the largest sources of funding commitments to AIDS treatment.

“This new partnership works to break down some of the barriers — such as price, supply and demand — that are impeding access to life-saving AIDS medicines and diagnostics in developing countries,” said Carol Bellamy, UNICEF executive director.

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