ARV prices slashed by 50pc

HARARE - Over 400 pharmacies in Zimbabwe have been accredited to sell anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs under a private-public partnership deal.

The arrangement has brought down cost of the treatment at pharmacies by over 50 percent on average.

Under the initiative, National Aids Council (Nac) procures ARVs in bulk and distributes them through National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) to retail pharmacies, which have agreed to stick to a minimal agreed mark-up on the life-saving drugs.

Retail Pharmacists Association (RPA) chairperson Portifa Mwendera said the retail arrangement makes the commodity affordable and helps de-congest the national programme.

“Currently, RPA has 413 retail pharmacy units spread throughout the country with the obvious concentration around urban centres quite apparent,” Mwendera told the Daily News yesterday.

“Clients should visit all pharmacies with the RPA logo for supplies. The arrangement has made availability better and the prices reasonable.”

A fixed dose of tenofovir, lamivudine and efavirenz, which used to be sold at $51 now costs $19, while atazanavir and ritonavir are now retailing at $38 from $63.

Provision of the drugs in the public sector used to cost only a dollar, a situation which resulted in congestion at public hospitals.

“The (private) sector is also well resourced in terms of personnel compared to the public sector facilities leading to being preferred by some patrons who value pharmaceutical care,” he said.

Zimbabwe has an HIV prevalence of 15 percent and approximately 1,2 million people are living with the virus.

Government is providing ARVs to only half of those and 71 percent of the provided drugs are funded by the international donor community.

Zimbabwe recently adopted new World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines which require that every HIV positive person with a CD4 count of 500 be immediately put on treatment.

This increased the number of those in need of treatment from about 800 000 to 1,2 million.

Mwendera said: “The industry is largely self-regulatory because medical aid societies will be paying at Nac rates while cash clients will simply move to the next pharmacy if they do not like the prices.”

Apart from self-regulation, parties representing government pledged to do random spot-checks on accredited pharmacies.

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