Abbott Offers To Sell Antiretroviral Aluvia at Reduced Price in Thailand, Health Official Says
Pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories has offered to sell its antiretroviral drug Aluvia, an updated version of its antiretroviral Kaletra, at a reduced price in Thailand on the condition that the country agrees to not allow generic versions of the drug into the market, Siriwat Thiptaradol, secretary-general of Thailand's Food and Drug Administration, said on Monday, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/14). The Thai government in November 2006 and January issued compulsory licenses to produce lower-cost versions of Merck's antiretroviral Efavirenz and Kaletra, respectively. Since then, the government and drug companies have continued negotiations (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/1).
Thailand's Ministry of Public Health last month announced that the country would seek to import from India a generic version of Aluvia. The announcement was made after Abbott said it would withhold the introduction of new drugs, including Aluvia, from the country, according to an unnamed source with the health ministry. The generic version of Aluvia costs about 4,000 baht, or $124, monthly, but generic drug makers could reduce the price to less than 2,000 baht, or $62, monthly to compete with the previous price of Kaletra offered by Abbott, according to Virat Poorahong, head of the Thai Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/23).
According to the Bangkok Post, Abbott offered to sell Aluvia for about 34,000 baht, or $1,000, per person annually. Indian generic drug maker Matrix Laboratories has offered to sell a generic version of Aluvia to Thailand for 24,324 baht, or $695, per person annually. Siriwat said that the offer would be considered by Thailand's Public Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla. Under the terms of the offer, Thailand would have to agree to not seek compulsory licensing for Aluvia and the price of Aluvia could not be reduced any further (Bangkok Post, 5/15).
Kannikar Kijtiwatchakul, a campaigner for Medecins Sans Frontieres, said the price is still too high, adding, "I think Abbott should offer a better price without conditions. We would suggest the minister of public health to say no to this condition" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/14). Vichai Chokewiwat, chair of the health ministry's compulsory licensing panel, said that if the ministry decides to accept Abbott's offer and pay a higher price for the drug than offered by other sources, it would need to justify the decision to the public. "If we buy the drug (the generic version of Aluvia) from India at $695 per person per year, next time, we might get the drug at a lower price, probably as low as $500," Vichai said, adding, "If we buy it from [Abbott] at $1,000 now, we might have to continue buying it at $1,000 forever" (Bangkok Post, 5/15). A representative from Abbott declined to comment, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/14).