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‘Nigeria to save $6 on every HIV drug bought from manufacturers’

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The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Transparency International (TI), has declared that Nigeria will be saving $6 for every anti-retroviral drug it buys from manufacturers, as against those bought through suppliers.

Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, stated this at a media briefing organised to support the government’s plan to purchase HIV drugs directly from manufacturers rather than from contractors.

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He disclosed that some contractors with insider collaboration had resisted and prevented the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) from buying the drugs directly from original manufacturers, which would have allowed the government to treat more people for the scourge.

“Giving the existing cost-efficient practice by the United States (U.S.) Government and Global Fund involving direct purchase of the drugs from the manufacturers, we are worried by the ill-informed, pocket-serving, and discrediting petitions by some vested interests.

“These individuals and groups, who have endlessly benefited from inflated prices of the drugs in the last five years, have discouraged NACA’s efforts to directly source the drugs for sustainability and wider coverage.

“CISLAC and TI Nigeria gathered that the contractors currently sell the anti-retroviral drugs at $13 per patient, as against the manufacturers’ $7,” the statement reads.

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He added that while international treaties and governments across the world recognise adequate, accessible, and affordable health care as a fundamental human right, financing medications in Nigeria was generally out-of-reach.

Musa also said the continued rise in price has made essential and prescribed medications unaffordable, and therefore, inaccessible, by a large number of Nigerians, who live below the poverty line.

“This inflated prices quoted by contractors render government financially incapacitated to adequately provide for and make anti-retroviral drugs accessible to health care facilities, which records regular stock-out, health hazards and relapse of illnesses,” it added.

While acknowledging NACA’s plan to establish HIV Trust Fund driven by the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to support the government’s efforts, Musa noted that without the U.S. government and the Global Fund’s current support, it would cost Nigeria N50b to treat one million people living with HIV yearly.

“We are also concerned that over-reliance on donor funds in the fight against HIV constitutes a dangerous trend to sustainability, hence the need for government to take full ownership in the prevention and treatment of HIV.

“Corruption in the treatment of HIV/AIDS is not different from corruption in the health sector. In 2003, Nigeria’s ARV programmes attracted much criticism when treatment centres were alleged to be giving expired drugs and rejecting patients,” the group said.

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