Latin American Countries Meet With Drug Companies To Negotiate Lower Antiretroviral Prices
Health ministers from 11 Latin American countries on Thursday met in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with officials from 24 drug and diagnostic companies in hopes of negotiating a "ceiling price" for antiretroviral drugs for the countries, according to Andres Lebovich, undersecretary for preventive programs and promotion at the Argentine health ministry, known as the Ministerio de Salud y Ambiente, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal reports. Officials from Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay are hoping to establish a cap on drug prices, with the idea that each country on an individual basis then could enter into further negotiations to lower the price of the drugs, Lebovich said. Representatives from some of the drug companies, which included Abbott Laboratories, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche and Bayer, likely will work to ensure that the countries' representatives do not promote the same price-lowering tactic Brazil has used in the past few months (Casey, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, 8/5). The Brazilian government in June announced that it would break Abbott's patent on the antiretroviral drug Kaletra unless the company lowered the drug's price 42% to 68 cents per pill from its current price of $1.17 per pill. Abbott and Brazil's Ministry of Health in early July announced that they had reached an agreement under which Abbott would keep the government's annual expenses on Kaletra at current levels for the next six years and Brazil would agree not to break Abbott's patent by producing a generic version of the drug. However, Brazilian Health Minister Jose Saraiva Felipe, who took office on July 8, later announced that no official agreement had been reached (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/25). Announcements about developments between the countries' representatives and the drug companies were expected to be announced on Friday (Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, 8/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.