Brazil, Bristol-Myers Squibb Negotiate 76% Price Discount on Antiretroviral Drug Atazanavir
Brazil's Ministry of Health on Friday said that the government has negotiated a 76% discount on Bristol-Myers Squibb's antiretroviral drug atazanavir, marking a "breakthrough in its relationship with the pharmaceutical industry," the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. Under the deal, Brazil will pay $3.25 for each capsule of atazanavir, which is far less than the manufacturer's price of $13.80. Brazil provides antiretroviral drug regimens free of charge to any person who needs them. The country's National STD/AIDS Programme, one of the "most progressive" in the world, manufactures generic versions of antiretrovirals, ignoring patents issued before 1997 when Brazil signed an intellectual property law in order to join the World Trade Organization, according to the AP/Post-Intelligencer. Although Brazil has threatened to break the patents on newer medications to produce generic versions, the government did not make such a threat with BMS (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/14).
Negotiations Continue With Other Companies
Brazil has been negotiating with Abbott Laboratories, Merck and Roche in order to obtain a 40% reduction in the price of three antiretroviral drugs. However, the government so far has succeeded in obtaining only a 6.7% reduction in current prices. The cost of three of the patented drugs that the country does not produce -- lopinavir, made by Abbott; nelfinavir, produced by Roche; and efavirenz, made by Merck -- represents 63% of Brazil's $200 million annual budget for antiretroviral drugs and threatens its free drug policy, health officials say (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/5). The ministry said that negotiations with Abbott, Merck and Roche are continuing, the AP/Post-Intelligencer reports (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/14). The deal with BMS, which represents the largest discount on antiretroviral drugs the country has negotiated thus far, will save Brazil more than $60 million each year, BBC News reports. Approximately 600,000 Brazilians are HIV-positive, but more than 65% are unaware of their HIV status, according to BBC News (BBC News, 11/14).
Additional information on AIDS in Brazil is available online through kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on AIDS.