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Medicine Man Bill Does Good

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Bill Clinton yesterday announced he has reached a deal with a handful of drug manufacturers to slice the costs of drugs used to combat AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

The deal will cut the minimum cost of a full year of antiretroviral drugs from $255 to $140 a year for those inflicted with the disease in Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, Mozambique and a host of Caribbean nations.

"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."

Clinton estimates that 2 million people will be receiving the reduced-cost drugs by 2008.

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.

Representatives from drug giants Aspen and Cipla joined Clinton at his Harlem headquarters. Stefan C. Friedman

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