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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release July 23, 1996

STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY

President Clinton announced today that he will raise his 1997 budget request for State AIDS drug assistance programs (ADAP) by $65 million to help Americans living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to get life-saving prescription drugs.

"New classes of drugs and new methods of treatment hold out the possibility that we can halt the progress of HIV and begin to repair the health of those who are living with this virus," the President said. "Therefore, it is important to take action to do so."

The President's announcement comes at a time of great hope and opportunity in the battle against HIV and AIDS, as illustrated by the scientific advances discussed earlier this month at the Eleventh International Conference on AIDS in Vancouver, Canada.

State ADAP programs help about 69,000 low-income people with HIV buy recently-discovered, life-extending drug therapies; these individuals do not get Medicaid, nor do they get prescription coverage through private health insurance. The ADAP programs are partially supported by grants under the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act.

Earlier this year, after the Food and Drug Administration's rapid approval of the first three protease inhibitor drugs, the President asked Congress to increase the Federal commitment to ADAP by $52 million. With strong bipartisan support, Congress agreed to the request, and the money is now being distributed to every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Now, with the promising results reported in Vancouver, the President has increased his 1997 request specifically for ADAP to $117 million, which more than doubles the amount the President is seeking specifically for these life-saving therapies. The President also asked States to maintain their strong commitments to providing additional resources for ADAP. Similarly, the President urged pharmaceutical manufacturers, who have made an admirable investment in the development of these drugs, to continue their commitment to helping make these products available for those who need them.

"While new drug treatments offer enormous hope to people living with HIV, it is also clear that our work is far from complete," the President said.

Indeed, further research is necessary to determine the long-term effect of protease inhibitors and other drugs, the proper dosages and combination of drugs, the optimal time to begin treatment, and the potential for drug resistance. The National Institutes of Health, working closely with scientists and clinicians from medical schools, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry, is committed to providing answers to these critical questions.

Without this budget amendment, thousands of Americans may lack access to the medications that hold promise for extending the lives of people with AIDS. The House has indicated an admirable bipartisan interest in boosting 1997 funding for these drugs.

The Administration looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to see that people who need these life-saving AIDS drugs can have greater access to them.

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