The Royal Free Hospital in London has recently agreed to discount the sale of CD4 test kits destined for Thailand, in recognition of the country's efforts to fight HIV by producing the lowest-priced antiretroviral drugs, according to Dr. Thongchai Thawichachart, the director of Thailand's Government Pharmaceutical Organization. The discount will bring down the cost of the CD4 test from about Bt500 ($11.50) to only about Bt100 ($2.30), he said. Due to the high cost of the test, doctors have been conducting CD4 count tests only twice a year; CD4 tests need to be conducted every three to four months. As a consequence, much treatment has failed, even when good drugs were administered by well-trained doctors. Many patients who could not afford the cost of the CD4 test have died before they could see a doctor.

The GPO will also offer Saquinavir, which is out of patent, in the next few months as a more affordable choice for those who are resistant to the existing formulas produced and distributed by GPO. The drug has yet to be priced, though the GPO says it will be slightly more expensive than the cocktail of antiretroviral drugs, which range from Bt3,000 to Bt5,000 ($69-$115) per person per month.

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