AIDS boost – Criticism of gift

Drug maker Pfizer Inc. will give a two-year, $50 million supply of its expensive AIDS-related medicine, Diflucan, to the South African government, The Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 29.

Pfizer’s move, made in the face of growing pressure on pharmaceutical firms to address the global HIV/AIDS crisis, drew criticism from activists in South Africa, who dismissed the action as a public-relations ploy.

Activists also said Pfizer’s offer is limited because the free medicine is likely to go only to patients treated by government programs and not by private doctors or nonprofit groups, the Journal said.

Peter Pilot, executive director of UNAIDS, said talks with other drug makers that offered to cut their prices in May had produced only limited progress.

The United Nations and World Health Organization also released its latest report on the global toll of HIV/AIDS.

Sub-Saharan Africa, the hardest-hit region, had 3.8 million new HIV infections this year, raising to 25.3 million the number of people with HIV in the region – or seven of every 10 adults in the world living with HIV.

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