New York, NY (BBN)– A top United Nations official has hailed agreements reached by the Clinton Foundation with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Matrix to reduce the prices of antiretroviral drugs for people living with AIDS and tuberculosis (TB).

“The reduction of prices of second line antiretroviral drugs will saves lives,” Executive Director of the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Michel Sidibé said in a press statement. “These agreements will help improve the sustainability of national treatment programs over the long term.”

Second line antiretroviral drugs are necessary when people living with HIV – currently an estimated 33 million people worldwide – fail to respond to standard treatment regimens.

At the end of last year, an estimated 5 percent of the 4 million people on antiretroviral treatment required second line drugs, according to UNAIDS, which added that the need for these drugs is expected to rise in the coming years.

The agency noted that the agreement with Matrix to make available three second line drugs in a single package will also contribute to the ease of delivery and help increase treatment adherence.

Meanwhile, the agreement with Pfizer will enable people to seek treatment for TB – a leading cause of death for those living with AIDS – without interrupting their second line treatment.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-07August09-11:47 pm (BST)