Brazil’s Threat To Break Antiretroviral Patents Harms Global AIDS Research, Treatment, Editorial Says
Brazil's threat to break U.S. drug companies' patents on antiretroviral drugs "amounts to international thievery and extortion" and "threatens to disrupt, not enhance, the worldwide treatment of AIDS," a Chicago Tribune editorial says (Chicago Tribune, 7/6). Brazilian Health Minister Humberto Costa last month informed Abbott Laboratories that Brazil will break the company's patent on the antiretroviral drug Kaletra unless the company lowers the drug's price 42% to 68 cents per pill from its current price of $1.17 per pill. Under an existing World Trade Organization 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 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/28). However, Brazil's claim for compulsory licensing is "bogus" because the country has a large economy and a low HIV prevalence rate, according to the editorial. "At stake is the integrity of patents and copyrights," as well as the future of HIV/AIDS treatment, because pharmaceutical companies will be less likely to invest in HIV/AIDS research if they "can be ripped off with impunity by foreign nations," the Tribune says. Brazil's threat "doesn't bode well for international trade, scientific research or the prospect of breakthroughs in the treatment of AIDS," the editorial concludes (Chicago Tribune, 7/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.