New Aids drug on the way in Kenya

A new class of Aids management drugs, and the only option for patients who have developed resistance to current antiretrovirals, will be available in Kenya within an year. But at what cost?

Clinicians estimate that one out of every five HIV patients in Kenya have already developed resistance to the antiretrovirals. "The situation is already running out of hand," says Dr Jacob Joseph, a specialist at the Coptic Hospital in Nairobi, the biggest supplier of ARVs in East and Central African.

Access to the new drugs is good news, says Dr Joseph, but the costs could be prohibitive when they finally land in Africa, "what with developers wanting to recoup their research costs and placement of patents".

The new drugs are being assessed for approval in the US, United Kingdom and Japan. At a recent international conference on Aids medication in San Francisco, three companies presented promising data showing the drugs worked even in patients with drug-resistant HIV strains.

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