HC Deb 26 February 2001 vol 363 c528W
Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government are taking to encourage major pharmaceutical companies to offer discounts on drugs that are needed in developing countries. [150655]

Clare Short

The Government are working through a number of channels to increase substantially access to medicines. We are building partnerships with industry to improve access to affordable medicines, and support World Health Organisation initiatives such as Roll Back Malaria and STOP TB (tuberculosis). The Government welcome the Accelerating Access to HIV/AIDS-related Care and Treatment Initiative, whereby several pharmaceutical companies are working with UNAIDS to reduce the cost of anti-retroviral therapy for AIDS in developing countries, although more needs to be done in terms of transparency in prices and further discounts. We are working with developing country Governments to strengthen the basic health care systems, without which drugs will not reach the poorest.

The Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit is carrying out a study on a wide range of policy options for public-private partnership, with the aim of improving access and affordability of essential drugs in developing countries. Possibly policy measures include differential pricing agreements (selling drugs more cheaply in poor countries), tax incentives and common purchase funds.