Originally published on Advocate.com March 18 2005 1:00 AM ET
Gilead Sciences on Wednesday announced that the company's global access program for anti-HIV medicines is being expanded to include additional countries in the Caribbean and Latin America. The program makes the drugs Truvada and Viread available to physicians and treatment programs in countries at the no-profit prices of $29.75 per month for Truvada and $24.71 per month for Viread.
Gilead's global access program was initiated in April 2003 and originally served 68 countries, including every country in Africa and 15 additional countries classified as "least developed" by the United Nations. Wednesday's expansion means that 95 countries, representing an estimated 70% of the global AIDS epidemic, are now included. The expansion focuses largely on the Caribbean region, which is second only to sub-Saharan Africa in HIV prevalence. In addition, the program has been expanded to include the low-income Latin American countries of Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Gilead also announced the establishment of a facility in the Bahamas to manufacture the active ingredient in Viread through a cooperative effort between the company, PharmaChem Technologies, and the Grand Bahama Port Authority. The plant initially will be able to produce enough of the drug's active ingredient to treat 500,000 HIV-positive people each year, with capacity expected to eventually rise to provide treatment for up to 1 million people per year.