Affordability of adult HIV/AIDS treatment in developing countries: modeling price determinants for a better insight of the market functioning

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Introduction: This study aims to provide a landscape of the global antiretroviral (ARV) market by analyzing the transactional data on donor-funded ARV procurement between 2003 and 2015, and the ARV price determinants.

Design: The data were obtained from the Global Price Reporting Mechanism (GPRM) managed by the AIDS Medicines and Diagnostics Service of the WHO, and it consists of information that covers approximately 80% of the total donor-funded adult ARV transactions procurement.

Methods: ExWorks prices and procured quantities were standardized according to the guidelines in terms of yearly doses. Descriptive statistics on quantities and prices show the main trends of the ARV market. Ordinary least squares estimation was carried out for the whole sample, then stratified according to the type of supplier (originator and generic) and controlled for time and geographical fixed-effects. Given that analyses were carried out on a public dataset on ARV transactional prices from the GPRM, ethics are respected and consent was not necessary.

Results: Originator medicines are on average the least expensive in the sub-Saharan Africa region, where at the same time, generic medicines are on average the most expensive. By contrast, originator medicines are the most expensive in Europe and Central Asia, and generic medicines are the least expensive. In fact, the data suggest mixed strategies by ARV suppliers to exploit opportunities for profit maximization and to adapt to the specific conditions of market competition in each region. Our results also suggest that the expiration of patents is not sufficient to boost additional developments in generic competition (at least in the ARV market) and that formal or informal agreements between generic firms may de facto slow down or even reverse longterm trends towards price decreases.

Conclusions: Our findings provide an improved understanding of the ARV market that can help countries strengthen policy measures to increase their bargaining power in price negotiations and the use of TRIPS flexibilities, with a special emphasis on negotiations with generic manufacturers.