A NEW effort to assess the quality of HIV medicines could make treatment services more accessible to poor countries. WHO has evaluated several HIV-related medicines, and on 20 March 2002 published the first list of products which were found to meet WHO recommended standards. The project's initial phase includes 40 products from eight branded and generic manufacturers. Managed by WHO, the initiative also involves UNICEF, and the UNAIDS Secretariat, with support from the UN Population Fund and the World Bank.
A dynamic process
The pilot project evaluates pharmaceutical products according to WHO's recommended standards of quality, and for compliance to Good Manufacturing Practices. It is just the beginning of an ongoing process that will keep adding products and suppliers to its list, as and when they are found to meet the set standards. The list is available on the WHO web site: http://www.who.int/medicines and on those of the collaborating agencies. So far eight companies have been evaluated, with another 13 suppliers and 100 products currently under review.
The new UN initiative on HIV medicines aims to make treatment more accessible for patients such as this at an AIDS reception centre in Brazil
Photo: WHO/PAHO/A. Waak