25 July 2006

"AIDS Pandemic Is still Outpacing Our Efforts", Broad Partnership Needed to Step up Response, Says Secretary-General after Meeting with Pharmaceutical Executives

NEW YORK, 24 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's statement, issued following a meeting with top pharmaceutical executives on HIV/AIDS, in New York, 24 July:

I met today with the top executives of nine of the world's leading research-based and generic pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies, together with the heads of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).  It was the first time manufacturers of generic drugs attended such a meeting.  We reviewed progress and discussed how we can do more together to expand access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support services in low- and middle-income countries.

In the five years since I first met with pharmaceutical company executives, we have seen significant advances.  Today, I pay tribute to the leadership and commitment of all the companies that contributed to this progress, including many of those represented at today's meeting.  Yet, the AIDS epidemic is still outpacing our efforts, and we need to work together in a broad partnership to step up the response.  I am pleased that the companies I met with today pledged to continue their efforts, in line with international commitments towards the goal of being as close as possible to universal access by 2010.

Building on their many existing initiatives, the companies have committed individually to the following:

-- Continue to review individually their offers of products and the prices of their existing and new HIV medications and diagnostics, especially for children, to make them more affordable, accessible and appropriate for use in low- and middle-income countries;

-- Register their HIV medications and diagnostics as widely as possible, including in developing countries -- where necessary, with assistance from UNAIDS co-sponsors and Secretariat to overcome obstacles to registration;

-- Give greater priority to research and development of paediatric formulations of HIV medications and specific diagnostic tools for children, as a contribution to the "Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS" campaign I launched with UNICEF, UNAIDS and other partners last year;

-- Invest further in research and development of new HIV-related medications, formulations, diagnostics (especially for infants), including vaccines, female-controlled technologies such as microbicides, and new technologies for the management of HIV;

-- Continue to develop, as part of their commitments and where appropriate, individual arrangements with third-party manufacturers for licences and technology transfers to make HIV medications and diagnostics more affordable and accessible.

We agreed on the role of the United Nations system in a number of areas, including in devising, promoting and updating guidelines on diagnosis, treatment and product quality for adults and children.  WHO and UNICEF will also step up efforts to expand the prequalification programme of urgently needed medicines and diagnostics.

The UN will continue to work with Governments, donors and, where appropriate, research-and-development as well as generic pharmaceutical companies, in developing forecasting models to predict demand and supply of HIV medications and diagnostics in developing countries. 

All participants stressed the importance of intellectual property in encouraging and ensuring research and development of new therapeutic and diagnostic options.  They reiterated their support for the flexibilities in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, and related WTO decisions.  They acknowledged bilateral efforts between research-based and generic companies to issue licences and transfer technology as a way to enhance HIV treatment and care.

In line with the Political Declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 2 June 2006, the United Nations, led by the UNAIDS co-sponsors and the Secretariat, will work with individual countries to remove tariffs and import duties which hamper efforts to make HIV medications and diagnostics affordable and accessible.

All participants agreed that strengthening health-care systems at the country level is essential to expanding treatment access and advancing prevention efforts.  While this is the primary responsibility of national Governments, I look forward to greater collaboration between the private sector and the United Nations to expand existing efforts.

These commitments are all of vital importance.  But, given the scale of the challenge, they are not sufficient in themselves.  In addition to their ongoing collaboration, the companies will meet with the UNAIDS co-sponsors and Secretariat at a high level once a year to review progress and identify further measures.

The United Nations will also step up its work with all partners -- Government, civil society and the private sector -- to ensure sustained political leadership and commitment; adequate resources; better access to voluntary testing and counselling; the promotion of human rights and gender equality; and the protection of all vulnerable groups. Progress on all these fronts is essential if we are to win the fight against HIV/AIDS -- the greatest challenge of our generation.


UN System:

Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General, United Nations
Kemal Derviş, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme
Ann Veneman, Executive Director, United Nations Children's Fund
Peter Piot, Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
Anders Nordström, Director-General a.i., World Health Organization


Stephen Saad, Aspen Pharmacare
P. V. Ramprasad Reddy, Aurobindo Pharma Ltd.
Gary Cohen, Becton Dickinson
Peter R. Dolan, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
Jean-Pierre Garnier, GlaxoSmithKline
B.P.S. Reddy, Hetero Drugs Ltd.
Christine Poon, Johnson & Johnson
Richard T. Clark, Merck & Co., Inc
Malvinder Mohan Singh, Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited

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