EU to emphasise need for solidarity in access to AIDS drugs

The EU-27 health ministers have signalled their intention to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry on access to anti-retroviral treatments at accessible prices, highlighting the need for solidarity with poorer nations.

The EU-27 health ministers held, on 31 May 2007, a policy debate on how to combat HIV/AIDS within the EU and in the neighbouring countries. They recognised that prevention is a key element in the fight against HIV/AIDS and urged civil society, media and the private sector to get involved in the prevention efforts. The Council also adopted conclusions based on the outcome of the German Presidency conference on HIV/AIDS held in March 2007.

Concerning access to antiretroviral treatments at accessible prices, the ministers underlined “the need to negotiate with the pharmaceutical industry and to show solidarity with the countries in economic difficulties”. 

Combating HIV/AIDS is one of the German EU Presidency priorities and Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the topic would be discussed at the meeting of heads of state and government at the June EU-Summit. Germany is currently also the president of the the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations, which is set to discuss the need to strengthen African health-care systems, with the fight against HIV/AIDS as one of the main concerns, at a Summit on 6-8 June. 

In parallel, the Commission announced on 31 May a sustained EU contribution to The Global Fund for 2007, and proposed a further €100 million per year for 2008-2010. This would bring the total Commission contribution to the Global Fund up to €400m over a period of four years. The EU executive has already contributed more €500m to this fund, which has supported, since 2002, developing countries in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. 

As regards individual EU member states, France has alone pledged nearly €1 billion to the fund since 2002, whereas, globally, the biggest individual contributor to the fund is the United States, which has already pledged some €2.2bn. President Bush announced, on 30 May 2007, his intention to double the amount of money the US wishes to commit to fight AIDS around the world to €22bn ($30bn). This would bring the US contribution to fight HIV/AIDS for a 10-year-period to some €36bn ($48.3bn).

Further Reading