Brazil Signs Agreements With Argentina, Clinton Foundation To Improve Access to Generic Antiretroviral Drugs
Brazil and Argentina this week agreed to jointly produce generic antiretroviral drugs, the Chicago Tribune reports. Officials from the two countries said they will begin sharing information and technology and will arrange meetings between experts. However, they did not say when production might start or if they will break international patents to produce the generic drugs (McMahon, Chicago Tribune, 8/25). The Brazilian Ministry of Health last week said it is again requesting that Abbott Laboratories lower the price of its antiretroviral drug Kaletra or Brazilian manufacturers will break the drug's patent and produce it for 41 cents per pill, compared with Abbott's price of $1.17 per pill. In July, Brazil's health ministry and Abbott said they had reached an agreement for Abbott to keep the government's annual expenses on Kaletra at current levels for the next six years and that Brazil would not break Abbott's patent to produce a generic equivalent of the drug. However, less than a week after the agreement was announced, incoming Brazilian Health Minister Jose Saraiva Felipe dismissed the agreement and said the country would continue to negotiate for a lower price (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/19). Abbott said it submitted a revised pricing proposal last week (Chicago Tribune, 8/25). Officials from Argentina, Brazil and nine other Latin American countries earlier this month reached an agreement with 26 pharmaceutical companies to secure discounts of as much as 66% on antiretroviral drugs. The other countries participating in the agreement include Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay. Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche and Bayer were among the companies involved in the agreement, and discounts range from 15% to 66%, depending on the medicine (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/10).
Brazilian, Argentine Officials' Comments
The goal of the agreement between Argentina and Brazil is "guaranteeing our inhabitants access to these medicines," Argentine Minister of Health and Environment Gines Gonzales Garcia said to the newspaper Clarin, adding, "[W]hat comes first are the interests of the citizens of each country." Saraiva Felipe said, "There is no predisposition to gratuitously violating intellectual property, but if Brazil goes so far as to develop medicines, especially antiretrovirals, we could come to adopt this attitude." Gabriela Hamilton, director of Argentina's HIV/AIDS program, said that the agreement with Brazil goes beyond another strategy to negotiate lower antiretroviral prices, adding that the two countries will work together on other diseases (Chicago Tribune, 8/25).
Agreement With Clinton Foundation
Saraiva Felipe on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Clinton Foundation that will allow the country to obtain generic antiretroviral drugs at lower prices, Ireland's Sunday Business Post reports. Under the agreement, the foundation will provide technical support to help the Brazilian government obtain the raw materials necessary to produce generic antiretrovirals. The agreement also will help Brazil purchase diagnostic tests and monitor the spread of HIV (Sunday Business Post, 8/26).