Brazil, Merck Negotiate 25% Price Discount on Antiretroviral Drug Efavirenz
Brazil on Tuesday announced that it has negotiated a 25% discount on Merck's antiretroviral drug efavirenz, which will save the country's National STD/AIDS Programme nearly $10 million next year, BBC News reports. The deal comes just days after negotiators announced that they had secured a 76% price discount on Bristol-Myers Squibb's antiretroviral drug atazanavir (BBC News, 11/18). Brazil is still in price negotiations with Roche and Abbott Laboratories seeking a 30% to 40% discount on Roche's nelfinavir and Abbott's lopinavir. Negotiators have threatened to break patents if no agreement can be reached by mid-December, Alexandre Grangeiro, head of the country's AIDS program, said (Hay, Reuters, 11/18). Brazil's AIDS program, which is considered to be 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. The cost of providing lopinavir, nelfinavir and efavirenz -- three of the patented drugs that the country does not produce -- represents 63% of Brazil's $200 million annual budget for antiretroviral drugs and threatens its free antiretroviral drug policy, health officials say (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/17). "If there's no reduction in price, [breaking patents is] an alternative that Brazil is going to have to analyze and use," Grangeiro said, adding, "You're dealing with a third world country with budget limitations." A spokesperson for Roche said that she believes negotiations will be "successful" but would not comment on the terms or timing of a possible deal, according to Reuters. Abbott officials were not immediately available for comment, Reuters reports (Reuters, 11/18).
MPR's "Marketplace Morning Report" on Wednesday reported on the deal with Merck (Radil, "Marketplace Morning Report," MPR, 11/19). The full segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.
Additional information on AIDS in Brazil is available online through kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on AIDS.