Pfizer offering free fungal drugs to AIDS patients

New York- US (PANA) -- US pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer Incorporated offered Wednesday to provide its anti-fungal drug, Diflucan, free of charge to HIV/AIDS patients in 50 least developed countries.
Fungal infections of the oesophagus is said to occur in 20 to 40 percent of HIV/AIDS patients.
Pfizer chairman, Hank McKinnell told a press conference at the UN that the anti-fungal programme would have no dollar limit, even though the company estimates it would cost 50 million US dollars over the next two years.
He promised to continue to work with the UN and the World Health Organisation, with which the programme was developed, so it could reach needy patients in the 50 countries.
The programme was first started in South Africa where 185 institutions began distributing the medicine to patients about three months ago.
Present at the announcement of the programme were a Minister from Botswana and diplomats from Namibia, Lesotho and South Africa.
Pfizer has begun discussions for the expansion of the anti-fugal programme to the five Southern African Development Community Member States of Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland.
South Africa's envoy to the US, Sheila Violet Makate Sisulu said Pfizer's offer would help fight fungal infections that afflict many AIDS patients.
Botswana's Housing Minister, Jacob Nkate, while thanking Pfizer for the drug programme said his country with 18-percent infection rate, has the worst HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region.
Some 36 million people are infected with the AIDS virus around the world, 25 million of them in Africa.
Public pressure has forced drug companies, including Pfizer to reduce the cost of anti-retroviral drugs for developing countries, where the medicine had been largely inaccessible to patients in the last 20 years of the AIDS pandemic.

06 june 2001 16:55:00

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