Merck Has No Plans to Further Reduce AIDS Drug Costs Despite Threat of Generic Competition
Merck & Co. Inc. has no plans to further cut the price of its AIDS drugs, despite the threat of generic competition following a World Trade Organization agreement adopted this month in Doha, Qatar, Reuters/South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports (Reuters/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 11/26). Earlier this month, WTO ministers approved and issued a declaration stating that developing nations can override patent protections to produce medicines during public health emergencies, addressing the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement, or TRIPS, which outlines international patent rules (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/15). Merck Vice President of Anti-Infectives Guy Macdonald, speaking on a conference call about the company's efforts to increase access to HIV drugs in developing countries, said that generic drug makers would be unable to match Merck's already lowered prices in these nations (Reuters/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 11/26). Merck announced in March that it would sell to any government, charitable organization or employer in developing nations its protease inhibitor Crixivan for $600 per patient per year and its non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor Stocrin (known in the United States as Sustiva) for $500 per patient per year (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/8). Merck is currently working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Botswana's government to increase education and treatment efforts in that country. "We're strengthening partnerships to find a way to ensure there is a better balance between the care and management of HIV," Macdonald said, adding that Merck has "made progress" working with nongovernmental organizations to distribute AIDS drugs in other developing countries (Reuters/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 11/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.