A medical worker is taking blood sample for HIV test at Khanh Hoa province's HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Centre. (Photo: khanhhoa.gov.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control said the country has successfully bidden anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs with prices 15-17 percent lower than those of similar drugs in use, bringing more hopes to local HIV/AIDS patients.

Before 2015, ARV drugs often came from drug aid by foreign organisations, including US government-backed President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, as well as support from the Clinton Foundation.

Since these organisations have run programmes to provide ARV drugs in large amounts to a lot of countries over a long time, in order to ensure the same quality of drugs for all recipient countries, they would bulk purchase from the producers for a slightly better price.

From 2015, overseas funding for HIV/AIDS treatment pills began to drop. To make sure that the supply of ARV drugs would not be interrupted, the Government has tasked the health ministry with using the State budget to purchase ARV drugs. The Administration of HIV/AIDS Control, with the help of international organisations, has managed to negotiate and win bids to buy the drugs in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.

In 2016, for the first time ever, the department bought 6.4 million 3-in-1 ARV pills – a single one of these 1200mg pills would contain the three types of medications that patients needed – for the price of 7.299 VND or 0.32 USD (5 percent VAT already included). Vietnam has managed to secure a better deal, buying the pills 16.6 percent cheaper compared with the Global Fund’s purchase price of 0.3681 USD, or 17.8 percent cheaper against the purchase price of PEPFAR’s 0.3728 USD.

In 2017, the country procured 3 million 3-in-1 ARV pills at an even lower price, 0.268 USD, 15 percent cheaper compared to 2016 and still lower than the purchase prices from the two abovementioned aid agencies.

The HIV/AIDS Control department said that towards the goal of covering 90 percent of HIV/AIDS patients with affordable treatment regimes, the financial sum would be a burden on the State budget.

Dr Kato Masaya, Coordinator for Communicable Disease Group at the WHO Vietnam Country Office, said WHO considers Vietnam a highlight in the region in treating HIV/AIDS with ARV, especially its efforts in implementing WHO’s recommendations on diagnostics and maximising coverage of ARV treatment.

Currently, there are 130,000 Vietnamese patients under treatment with ARV drugs.

According to world experts, in the past decade, the increasingly accessible ARV therapies have helped 150,000 HIV patients escape death and prevent infection in 450,000 people.-VNA