Globally, Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the most deeply afflicted by HIV/AIDS. Approximately twenty seven million (26.6) million people are living with the virus and approximately three million new cases are reported in this region alone [Remember that a substantial number of cases go unreported.]. Work is currently being done to stem the transmission of the virus; extensive educational programmes, governmental emphasis on societal equality for those infected and a strict enforcement on the endeavors of sex workers detail on a small sector of these valiant ambitions.
The issue at hand though, is that these measures alone cannot stop this major epidemic. Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, utilized to aid the body's fight against the virus, need to be offered to hospitals and consumers at affordable prices. In the status quo, dominant pharmaceuticals, such as Roche and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are overpricing the drugs to such an extent that smaller companies located in these developing African countries are producing generic products, replete with still powerful affects. The aforementioned pharmaceuticals are now clogging courts with litigation, attempting and often times succeeding in hindering, or completing impeding the work of these generic producers.
All the while more and more continue to perish.
Specific Patent Issues:
Already financially stressed having provided healthcare to millions before, the Sub-Saharan African health sector is finding the demands placed upon ARVs simply too great. Understand that the actual cost of pill production is quite nominal, however companies like GSK increase the cost of the drug to match what has been often times revealed, a disproportionate amount of research and man power.
In addition to this, those philanthropic members of the corporate world are deliberating the new and profound studies being released, contemplating whether or not to continue funding treatment plans. See, the Harvard Center for International Development produced a paper stating that the patents did not constrain access to AIDS treatment in Africa. In response, Doctors without Borders and Health GAP argued that the region's most popular drug, AZT/3TC is patented over 70% of countries and the most affordable non nucleoside, in nearly half. The simple fact that these medications are patented in western, developed countries raises the prices to three times that of generic products.