The government has negotiated the world’s lowest price for a new HIV pill containing dolutegravir, but delays in awarding contracts to pharmaceutical companies have cost it almost R500m The tender was announced this week, and pushed the implementation date out from April 1 to July 1. SA has the world’s biggest HIV/AIDS epidemic and the health department’s plans to switch patients to a safer and cheaper dolutegravir-based regimen is a key part of its strategy for increasing the number of state patients from 4.2-million to 6-million by 2020-21. About 7.2-million people were living with HIV in SA in 2017, according to UNaids. SA took the first step towards introducing dolutegravir when health minister Aaron Motsoaledi and international agencies reached a breakthrough agreement with drug manufacturers in 2017 that capped the price of a generic pill combining tenofovir, lamivudine and dolutegravir (TLD) at $75 per person per year for low and middle-income countries. The Treasury has nego...

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