Bill Clinton, drugmakers announce cheaper HIV drugs

NEW YORK, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and drugmakers Pfizer PFE.N and Matrix Laboratories Ltd MAXL.BO announced a deal on Thursday to lower the cost of treatments for patients with drug-resistant forms of HIV/AIDS.

Second-line antiretroviral therapies and a drug used to treat tuberculosis for those with drug-resistant HIV/AIDS will be made available at a reduced cost and in more convenient regimens, saving as many as hundreds of thousands of lives in the developing world, Clinton said.

“Today’s announcement will help ensure we can sustain treatment over a lifetime and better treat patients with both HIV and TB, two key steps in turning the tide of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic,” Clinton told reporters at his foundation’s headquarters in Manhattan.

Starting in 2010, Matrix, a unit of U.S.-based Mylan Inc MYL.O, will make four drugs available at a cost of $425 per year. The discount will result in $400 million in savings over the next five years compared to prices commonly paid for alternative regimens, the foundation said.

In addition, Matrix said it would create a more convenient regimen for taking the drugs, allowing patients to take pills just once per day.

Pfizer will offer the tuberculosis drug rifabutin in 10 countries for $1 per dose, or $90 for a full course of treatment over six months.

Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among those with HIV/AIDS, Clinton said. (Reporting by Edith Honan, Editing by Michelle Nichols and Eric Beech)