updated 11/4/2003 2:38:12 PM ET 2003-11-04T19:38:12

Four foreign, generic-drug companies will provide low-cost AIDS drugs to several nations in Africa and the Caribbean, former President Clinton said Thursday. The plan, brokered by his foundation, will cut the price of a triple-drug regimen in those countries about 38 cents a day, Clinton said at a news conference.

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“This agreement will allow the delivery of lifesaving medicines to people who desperately need them,” Clinton said. “It represents a big breakthrough in our efforts to begin treatment programs in places where, until now, there has been virtually no medicine and therefore no hope.”

Under the deal brokered by the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, three Indian drug companies and one South African firm will cut the price of their AIDS drugs for distribution in Rwanda, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa and several Caribbean nations.

The pharmaceutical companies and Clinton advisers have worked this year on ways to cut costs and reduce drug prices, and the foundation has collaborated with governments of the African and Caribbean nations on feasible ways to fund AIDS treatment.

South Africa is one of the hardest-hit nations by HIV and AIDS, with some 4.7 million South Africans, roughly 11 percent of the population, infected with the virus.

The foundation has also helped nations prepare for introducing the drugs into their health systems. The plans are intended to make the drugs more readily available to AIDS patients.

To pay for the drugs, and for improvements in the countries’ health systems, Clinton has secured partial funding by lobbying wealthier nations, including Ireland and Canada. Ireland has committed $58.3 million over five years, mainly to Mozambique.

The four African nations have each secured additional funds from other sources, including the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

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