Brazil Accuses Pharmaceutical Companies of Seeking To Discredit Country’s Generic Drugs
Brazilian officials on Wednesday accused pharmaceutical companies of seeking to discredit the country's national antiretroviral distribution program by claiming that generic drugs used in the program have resulted in the development of drug-resistant strains of HIV, Reuters reports. Brazil's policy of offering universal access to free antiretroviral drugs has made it a "model for the developing world," according to Reuters. The country negotiates discounted pricing for the drugs or, if unable to negotiate a satisfactory price, begins local production of generic copies of the drugs. "What [the companies] really want is to stop treatment reaching poor countries and creating a demand for price cuts and local pressure to break patents," Paulo Teixeira, head of the country's AIDS program, said. Teixeira accused the drug companies of attempting to convince the World Bank, which is set to meet in June to discuss new funding for HIV treatment programs, that Brazil's program is not effective. According to Reuters, the firms are "keen to influence the bank," which allows nations to use funds to purchase either generic or brand name drugs. "If there are doubts about the Brazil program, it's clearly going to harm prospects for these new projects," Teixeira said (Hay, Reuters, 5/14). Drawing on a study published in the most recent issue of the journal AIDS, the Brazil Ministry of Health says that the prevalence of drug resistant HIV strains in Brazil is 6.6%, lower than in the United States (15%), Spain (23%), the United Kingdom (14%), Germany (13%), and France (10%) (Brazil Ministry of Health release, 5/13). World Bank HIV program director Debrework Zewdie said that companies, governments and multilateral organizations criticize Brazil's AIDS program daily but that the groups have "no influence on World Bank HIV treatment policy, which regards Brazil as a model program," according to Reuters. The country's AIDS program has succeeded in keeping HIV prevalence among adults at 0.6%, contrary to predictions that the country would be "ravage[d]" by HIV/AIDS, according to Reuters (Reuters, 5/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.