This week, over 25,000 people from almost 200 countries will gather in Washington DC for the AIDS 2012: the XIX International AIDS Conference. It's an important opportunity for scientists, patients, patient advocates, and policymakers to share the most recent scientific discoveries, identify policy priorities for the HIV/AIDS community, and encourage international partnership in tackling the HIV epidemic.
For individuals with HIV, access to effective drugs can be a matter of life and death. In fact, HIV and AIDS activists were essential to the creation of the first Prescription Drug User Fee Act, PDUFA I, in 1992. Frustrated with lengthy FDA review times and slow development of new HIV treatments, the HIV/AIDS community advocated for legislation that would ensure patients had faster access to safe, effective, and breakthrough treatments. Since then, over 1,500 new medicines have been approved for a wide variety of diseases including AIDS--helping millions of individuals live longer, healthier lives.
PDUFA has helped shorten FDA review times, ensuring that patients get access to treatments as soon as possible. The National Association of People With AIDS, a patient organization that took part in the public discussions of PDUFA last year, notes that "Since 1992 when PDUFA was first enacted, the average approval time for new medicines has decreased by more than half. The same decade has seen the welcome flood of new HIV antiviral medications that have changed HIV from a death sentence into a serious but survivable condition. Many of us are still here because PDUFA works."
Ronald Johnson, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at AIDS United, echoed this sentiment in a blog post: "For Americans living with serious or chronic diseases and disabilities, new treatments can't come fast enough," he said. "As a person living with HIV/AIDS, I've certainly benefited from FDA approval of new drugs that have improved HIV treatment regimens dramatically." Thanks to PDUFA--and the determination shown by the HIV/AIDS community who helped make it a reality--the FDA has the resources it needs to maintain the timely review of safe and effective new drugs, ensuring that patients have access to the lifesaving medicines and treatments they need.