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HIV/AIDS patients denied best drugs due to bureaucracy: expert

  • Source: Global Times
  • [01:24 September 28 2010]
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By Zou Le

Chinese HIV/AIDS sufferers are not getting the best treatment for the disease, as long and costly licensing processes are preventing more effective drugs from entering China, according to a leading researcher in the field.

Speaking on the sidelines of a presentation he made at Tsinghua University, David Ho told the Global Times Monday that Chinese HIV/AIDS patients have only a few drugs to choose from, unlike patients in the US who have 25.

"Most of the drugs used in China right now are no longer used by patients in the US, as they are less effective and cause more side effects," Ho said.

Ho said it takes about five years to license a new drug that has been used abroad, as Chinese authorities conduct a new round of clinical trials before issuing permission for its use.

Ho, who pioneered combination antiretroviral therapy, commonly known as "cocktail" treatment, has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS research for almost three decades.

Ho said China needs to make better options available to patients, as the drugs available here are not yet optimal, adding that high prices for these drugs as well as other economic problems present further obstacles.

Ho also expressed caution over claims that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been effective in treating HIV/AIDS.

"I have not seen anything that is convincing," he said.

Ho added that "TCM should be systematically studied by new scientific methods, not by claims or proclamations" that failed to provide concrete statistics to prove its effects.

Ho also hailed the progress China has made in the past several years in combating HIV/ AIDS in terms of prevention, research, education and treatment.