Yes, the evil pharmaceutical companies ARE turning their profits back into research and development. I thought this was an appropriate way to mark World AIDS Day today.
82 New Medicines Now in Development for HIV/AIDS
Washington, D.C. (November 30, 2005) — Eighty-two new medicines and vaccines are in development to treat HIV/AIDS and related conditions, according to a survey released today by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
December 1, is World AIDS Day. Recent reports show AIDS has killed more than 20 million people and infected an estimated 40 million people worldwide. As many as 1.1 million U.S. residents are estimated to have HIV infection.
“I am greatly encouraged by the many medicines in development to treat HIV/AIDS,” said PhRMA President and CEO Billy Tauzin. “PhRMA member companies are leading the search for vaccines and cures for this terrible disease.”
PhRMA’s survey reveals that of the 82 new medicines in development, researchers are studying 18 new vaccines and 36 antivirals. These drugs are either in human clinical trials or are awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration. One of the vaccines is designed to boost the body’s overall immune response to fight HIV; another vaccine candidate forms a protective covering on the surface of the cell, blocking the HIV virus from entering.
Examples of other new HIV/AIDS medicines being researched include:
**A vaccine that combines DNA from the AIDS virus with a protein that boosts the immune response in a disabled cold virus. The vaccine is designed to limit the damage the virus causes rather than prevent infection.
**A gene therapy that uses two novel technologies to boost immune responsiveness against HIV. One technology inserts a new type of genetic material into blood cells to inhibit the growth of the virus. The second integrates new genes into target cells and transfers those cells to the patient.
Eighty-six medicines to treat HIV/AIDS and related conditions have been approved since the virus that causes AIDS was first identified more than 20 years ago; the first such medicine was developed in 1987, just six years after the HIV virus was identified. The increased availability and utilization of newer prescription medicines has helped to reduce the U.S. death rate from AIDS substantially in recent years.
Since the early 1990s, medicines also have significantly reduced mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that since the mid-1990s, when the first protease inhibitors (a class of anti-HIV drugs that prevent HIV-infected cells from producing new copies of the virus) were launched and combination drug therapy was introduced, the U.S. death rate from AIDS has dropped about 70 percent. New treatments have also reduced hospitalization and the total cost of care, according to a 2001 New England Journal of Medicine study.
Despite astounding progress, AIDS remains a devastating and growing worldwide health problem in developing countries, and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, China, Russia and India. An estimated five million new HIV infections occurred worldwide during 2004 – about 14,000 each day – and 3.1 million people worldwide died from the disease, according to the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Since 1998, pharmaceutical companies have contributed more than $4.1 billion to improve health care in the developing world. Projects include building HIV/AIDS clinics, AIDS education and prevention programs, programs to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and donations of medicines for AIDS and related diseases. Companies also are providing AIDS drugs at significantly reduced prices in 18 countries.
“With HIV/AIDS medicines, a disease that was once a virtual death sentence can now be controlled and treated as if it were a chronic disease,” added Tauzin. “And the new medicines our scientists are working on right now bring hope for even better results in the future.”
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $38.8 billion in 2004 in discovering and developing new medicines. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures.
American capitalism and hard-working American people employed in this industry are making the difference. Think about that when you contemplate turning our healthcare system over to the Federal government.