Statement on behalf of the Georgian Harm Reduction Network
Agenda item 1.4: Report by the NGO Representative
Dear Chairman, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of Georgian Harm Reduction Network I am here to share concerns regarding ARV treatment in EECA region, namely in Georgia.
ARV treatment now available in Georgia through Global Fund, ensures that good quality drugs are purchased at reasonable prices via Voluntary Pooled Procurement (VPP) mechanism and provided free of charge to PLHIV. The Pooled Procurement reasonable price, that varies from 2200 to 2500 USD, is still quite unreasonable for more than half of PLHIV in Georgia having annual salaries less than 2200 USD. So the question remains what will happen, when Global Fund leaves and governments burdened with Intellectual Property Protection do not handle the fast increasing ARV treatment need?. Patents holders of HIV/AIDS medicines have exclusive control over the pricing, limiting the access to generics, thus to universal access to ARV treatment.
According to 2010 UNAIDS data, in some EECA countries slightly more than a half of people in need of treatment were receiving it, in Belarus and Georgia respectively 51% and 65%, in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Lithuania, Poland, Moldova, Russia and Uzbekistan between 20-40%, and in Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Tajikistan and Ukraine treatment was accessible for less than 20% of people in need.. In Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia signed association agreements with the EU, sets additional Intellectual Property protection measures as a part of free trade agreements (FTAs). That will further limit the access to generic medicines available at the moment.
The TRIPS Agreement must not prevent the Member States from protecting public health. Governments should have the will and power to use the agreement’s flexibilities in order to avoid any reticence, especially in the countries building state funding transition strategies. The governments in the region with the technical support of international organizations should:
- Develop ARV medicines purchasing mechanisms in line with the principles “price-quality” and “cost-effectiveness” ;
- Continuously endorse ARV treatment costs in state Health Care budgets
We call upon the governments to integrate the aforementioned strategic steps as part of the national HIV programs to ensure that TRIPS flexibility endorsement mechanisms are put in place to accelerate the universal access to the ARV treatment in the region.
Thank you for your attention.