Use of generic antiretroviral agents and cost savings in PEPFAR treatment programs

JAMA. 2010 Jul 21;304(3):313-20. doi: 10.1001/jama.2010.993.


Context: One of the biggest hurdles to the rapid scale-up of antiretroviral therapy in the developing world was the price of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). Modification of an existing US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) process to expedite review and approval of generic ARVs quickly resulted in a large number of FDA-tentatively approved ARVs available for use by the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Objective: To evaluate the uptake of generic ARVs among PEPFAR-supported programs in Guyana, Haiti, Vietnam, and 13 countries in Africa, and changes over time in ARV use and costs.

Design, setting, and participants: An annual survey from 2005 to 2008 of ARVs purchased in 16 countries by PEPFAR implementing and procurement partners (organizations using PEPFAR funding to purchase ARVs).

Main outcome measures: Drug expenditures, ARV types and volumes (assessed per pack, a 1-month supply), proportion of generic procurement across years and countries, and cost savings from generic procurement.

Results: ARV expenditures increased from $116.8 million (2005) to $202.2 million (2008); and procurement increased from 6.2 million to 22.1 million monthly packs. The proportion spent on generic ARVs increased from 9.17% (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.17%-9.18%) in 2005 to 76.41% (95% CI, 76.41%-76.42%) in 2008 (P < .001), and the proportion of generic packs procured increased from 14.8% (95% CI, 14.79%-14.84%) in 2005 to 89.33% (95% CI, 89.32%-89.34%) in 2008 (P < .001). In 2008, there were 8 PEPFAR programs that procured at least 90.0% of ARV packs in generic form; South Africa had the lowest generic procurement (24.7%; 95% CI, 24.6%-24.8%). Procurement of generic fixed-dose combinations increased from 33.3% (95% CI, 33.24%-33.43%) in 2005 to 42.73% (95% CI, 42.71%-42.75%) in 2008. Estimated yearly savings generated through generic ARV use were $8,108,444 in 2005, $24,940,014 in 2006, $75,645,816 in 2007, and $214,648,982 in 2008, a total estimated savings of $323,343,256.

Conclusion: Among PEPFAR-supported programs in 16 countries, availability of generic ARVs was associated with increased ARV procurement and substantial estimated cost savings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / economics*
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cost Savings
  • Data Collection
  • Drug Approval / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Drug Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Drugs, Generic / economics*
  • Drugs, Generic / therapeutic use*
  • Guyana
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • Haiti
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration
  • Vietnam


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • Drugs, Generic