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Brazil issues compulsory licence

070514_merck-brazil.jpgLess than six months after the Thai public health ministry said it would issue a compulsory licence over a patent held by Merck for the AIDS treatment drug efavirenz, the Brazilian government has followed suit. The Brazilian president, Luiz Inà¡cio Lula da Silva, signed a decree sanctioning the compulsory licensing on May 4. Despite previous high stakes negotiations between drugs companies and the Brazilian government, this is the first time the country has broken a drug patent. On April 24 the Minister of Health, José Gomes Temporà£o, had declared the drug to be of public interest and given Merck one week to lower its prices. At the moment the US pharmaceutical company charges the Brazilian health authorities $1.59 for each tablet, which would amount to $42.9 million in 2007, the government says. In a statement, the government said that the antiretroviral drug efavirenz is the most used imported drug in AIDS treatment and that it is used by 38% of AIDS patients in Brazil. It estimates that by the end of this year, 75,000 of Brazil’s 200,000 AIDS patients will be taking the drug. Merck offered to cut its prices by 30% last week but the proposal was deemed unsatisfactory by the government, which said it could obtain the drug for 45 cents elsewhere. Merck has condemned the May 4 decision, saying it is “profoundly disappointed” by the Brazilian government’s move, which would allow efavirenz — marketed as Stocrin — to be produced by a generic manufacturer. Image source: Bruno Peres /Associated Press /

News selected by Covalence | Country: Brazil | Company: Merck & Co, Inc | Source: Managing Intellectual Property

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