Brazilian Health Minister Urges Other Countries To Use WTO Rules To Challenge Drug Companies To Lower AIDS Drug Prices
Brazilian Health Minister Humberto Costa on Monday encouraged other countries to use World Trade Organization rules on patents to challenge the antiretroviral drug pricing policies of large pharmaceutical companies, the AP/Forbes.com reports. Under an existing WTO intellectual property agreement, governments can approve the domestic production of generic versions of patented drugs during emergency public health situations if they fail to reach an agreement with the patent holder (Harnischfeger, AP/Forbes.com, 6/27). Costa on Friday informed Abbott Laboratories that Brazil will break the company's patent on the antiretroviral drug Kaletra within 10 days unless the company lowers the drug's price 42% to 68 cents per pill from its current price of $1.17 per pill (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/27). Speaking to journalists in Geneva, where he is attending a UNAIDS meeting, Costa said it would take about one year for Brazil to establish facilities to produce and test a generic version of Kaletra for efficacy and safety (AFP/Yahoo! News, 6/27). Brazil also is negotiating price reductions for Merck's efavirenz and Gilead's tenofovir (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/27). Costa said other countries could take similar steps to produce antiretroviral drugs, the Chicago Tribune reports (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 6/28). "We do not want to make this situation a showcase," Costa said, adding, "But I think we can stimulate with this decision that other countries use this legal mechanism" (AP/Forbes.com, 6/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.