GlaxoSmithKline, Brazil Expected To Sign Deal on Providing Antiretroviral at Reduced CostGlaxoSmithKline and Brazil by Friday are expected to sign an agreement that would reduce the cost of GSK's antiretroviral Abacavir by 27% in the country, an unnamed health ministry official announced on Thursday, Dow Jones reports. Although the official did not specify how much Brazil would save from the deal, he said that GSK likely will lower the cost of Abacavir from $2.76 per dose to $2 per dose, according to Dow Jones. The deal comes one week after Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva issued a compulsory license to produce a lower-cost, generic version of Merck's antiretroviral Efavirenz (Radowitz, Dow Jones, 5/10).
World Trade Organization regulations allow governments to declare a "national emergency" and issue compulsory licenses on any grounds without consulting the foreign patent owner. Brazilian Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao late last month signed a decree declaring that the country would purchase from an India-based drug maker a generic version of Efavirenz if Merck did not offer the drug at a lower price. Brazil asked Merck to reduce the cost of Efavirenz to 65 cents per dose from $1.57 per dose. An unnamed source said that Merck offered to sell the drug for $1.10 per patient daily, but Brazil rejected the offer. Merck sells Efavirenz for $1.80 per daily dose in most middle-income countries. A generic version of the drug would save Brazil about $240 million by 2012, when Merck's patent on Efavirenz expires (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/7).
Brazil and GSK since last year have been in talks about a discount for Abacavir, which the government provides at no cost to about 4,000 people. The Brazilian government provides antiretrovirals at no cost to anyone in the country who needs them and manufactures generic versions of several drugs. About 600,000 people are living with HIV in Brazil, according to health ministry estimates (Dow Jones, 5/10). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.