When people first fell victim to AIDS, it was a frighteningly unknown killer. Scientists raced to contain and combat it while still grappling to understand the complex disease.
The determination to research and develop medicines to fight HIV/AIDS has contributed greatly to the steady decrease in AIDS-related deaths worldwide, from the peak of 2.1 million in 2004 to an estimated 1.8 million in 2009, according to the 2010 UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic. In developed countries, mortality rates have decreased by 70 percent, and with the expansion of ARV therapy, there were 20 percent fewer AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2009 than in 2004. The spread of the disease has also stabilized, with the number of new infections steadily declining.
Global progress is unquestionable, but millions of afflicted people in developing countries continue to struggle to receive breakthrough medical treatments. PhRMA member companies have sought to tackle three AIDS global challenges: ensuring new medicines and training are available on an emergency basis, forging innovative partnerships that build a sustainable infrastructure that enables safe delivery of treatment and licensing manufacturing to foreign governments to allow patients to access lower cost or no cost treatments.
- As of 2010, the research-based pharmaceutical industry administered 9.5 billion doses/treatments to more than half a billion patients worldwide while training 350,000 doctors, nurses and other health personnel, contributing 8.45 billion of product and investment to the least developed countries.
- Unprecedented partnerships between the biopharmaceutical industry, governments and global funding organizations have helped build infrastructure that makes it possible for patients to access HIV/AIDS medicines and ensure treatments can be administered safely. Biopharmaceutical companies have also worked with patient groups and nonprofits to support AIDS awareness and education programs to prevent new HIV infections in developing nations.
- In addition to investment in infrastructure and in-kind donations of critical treatments, PhRMA member companies have set up voluntary licenses of their products and processes to allow developing countries to manufacture their own low-cost treatments. Voluntary licenses for developing countries allow the biopharmaceutical industry to do what it does best here in the United States -- develop, test, and deliver breakthrough medicines and treatments that advance the possibility and hope for survival.
HIV/AIDS is a complex disease that mutates, becomes resistant and spreads rapidly. Despite these challenges, in just three decades more than 30 new medicines have been approved to treat HIV/AIDS and our search for better and more effective options continues. Our determination and pursuit of eradication lives in the 88 medicines and vaccines currently in development and the research that is currently under way at dozens of facilities across the world.