China Hints at Producing Generic Copies of Patented AIDS Drugs if Price Negotiations Prove Unsuccessful
Chinese health officials may allow Chinese businesses to produce generic copies of patented AIDS drugs unless international pharmaceutical firms lower the price of the medicines, the South China Morning Post reports. Liu Kangmai, an official with the Chinese Health Ministry's AIDS Prevention and Control Center, said that the government wants to cut the price of AIDS drugs in the country by 90%. To achieve these price reductions, the government can either "ignore" drug patents or "force" foreign drug firms to lower their prices, Liu said. The government has not yet begun price negotiations with pharmaceutical firms, but officials have said China "may take a tough line" if efforts to reach an agreement are not successful. However, AIDS Prevention and Control Center spokesperson Zhao Wenli "sought to play down" China's position on producing generic drugs. "Because we are about to enter the World Trade Organization, China is abiding by world treaties, including the international patent rights law," Zhao said, adding that the health ministry is "looking into ways to reach a compromise" with pharmaceutical firms. Zhao said that the average person with AIDS in China spends between $12,096 and $24,192 annually on medical bills, an amount "well beyond the reach" of most people with AIDS in the country (Li, South China Morning Post, 11/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.