#AIDS2012: Guest Update from HealthHIV

#AIDS2012: Guest Update from HealthHIV

07.26.12 | By Mark Grayson

Today we have a guest post from James Sykes, Advocacy Manager for HealthHIV, an organization offering support for people living with, or at risk for, HIV/AIDS by providing education, capacity building, health services research, and advocacy to organizations, communities and professionals.

We appreciate Mr. Sykes taking the time to share his observations on this week's conference with Catalyst readers. It will surprise no one that we fully agree with his sentiments around the importance of an environment that encourages future innovation in HIV/AIDS.

The "Generics for All" placard he references in his post below raises a number of interesting issues around patient care, access to medicines and the prescription drug lifecycle. At PhRMA, we fully recognize the importance of generic drugs to our health care system. After all, nearly 80% of prescriptions in the U.S. are filled with generics. Whether this is the right ratio to sustain innovation and access over the long run is debatable and perhaps fodder for a separate post. Regardless, it's important to remember that these lower-cost generics, including some HIV treatments, would not be possible without the research, investment and determination of the innovator company. We will write more about the drug lifecycle in the months ahead, so please stay tuned. -MG

The Global Village is alive with HIV/AIDS activists from around the globe at the International AIDS Conference of 2012 discussing a variety of pressing issues impacting millions of people today. There have also been a number of demonstrations that are calling for more AIDS funding and improved access to medicines.

One placard that caught my attention read, "Generics for Everyone." As an advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS, I am often at odds with the focus of these demonstrations, but this specific sign resonated with me. I, too, want generics for every disease for which they are available - with one caveat: I want FDA-approved generics! In the case of HIV, there few FDA-approved antiretrovirals (ARVs) available in the United States.

FDA-approved drugs are developed after the expiration of the patent on the originator compound and the goal, in my opinion, should be to foster an environment which encourages research, development and future innovation. Any real progress in HIV treatment depends on diligent research and innovation. Without an investment in innovation, new treatments will not exist for the millions of patients depending on them.

I think we must also address the healthcare workforce shortages in developing nations, as well as in the U.S. Only by increasing the amount of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers can we adequately provide treatments to the people who need them. Access to care must go hand-in-hand with a commitment to research and improved access to medications.

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