December 4, 2004
Editor -- It is difficult to understand what could motivate Abner Mason to spread such irresponsible and inaccurate claims about generic AIDS medicines (Open Forum, Dec. 1.) Here in Malawi, we treat more than 4,500 people with HIV/AIDS, using mostly generic antiretrovirals.
Worldwide, Doctors Without Borders treats 23,000 people in 27 countries.
Our clinical results, published in peer-reviewed medical journals and presented at international conferences, parallel those in the United States.
Like physicians in the United States, I prescribe generic medicines every day, and would never consider using "suspect" or "untested AIDS treatments." Several generic AIDS medicines were recently removed from the World Health Organization's prequalification list, but only to resolve important questions about their bioequivalence, not because of deadly side effects. In fact, two of the medicines in question were re-approved on the very day Mason's misleading piece appeared.
No amount of misinformation or out-of-context quotes can hide the fact that AIDS treatment has only been possible in some of the world's most impoverished regions because generic competition led to dramatic price drops - - from $15,000 per person per year to just $150. Without the medicines Mason derides, thousands of our patients would probably be dead, their names silently added to the shameful list of 20 million needlessly lost to the scourge of AIDS.
Roger Teck, MDDoctors Without Borders
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)