Lebanon: AIDS Drug Deal to Slash Treatment Costs

Lebanon's Ministry of Health signed an agreement Tuesday with leading international pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp and Dohme to provide AIDS drugs at 15 percent of the market rate. The agreement makes Lebanon a part of MSD's “Facilitating Accelerated Access” initiative for HIV/AIDS patients, a program to provide easier access to training education, testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS, as well as offer discounts on two AIDS mediations, Efavirenz and Indinavir. The new deal is expected to save the Health Ministry $1 million a year in drug bills. National AIDS Program head Mustafa Naqib said although there are 697 known AIDS cases in Lebanon, only about 180 are actually eligible for the treatment. The program registered 47 new cases of HIV/AIDS in 2002.

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