U.S. Lab Says Brazil Cannot Break AIDS Drug Patent

Merck Sharp & Dohme Laboratory believes Brazil does not have enough conditions to request compulsory licensing of antiretroviral medications that integrate the anti-AIDS cocktail. This type of license is equivalent to the break of patents.

"There is no national emergency, the government AIDS program is working very well. Furthermore, the price of Efavirenz - one of the cocktail components - corresponds to 16% of the product's value in developing countries, because of the cumulative discounts we give the government," says the laboratory Corporate Communication Director, João Sanches.

According to Sanches, the company has been negotiating, since 2003, the voluntary licensing, which allows the government to produce the medication in Brazil and pay corresponding royalties to the company.

"We expect the government to respect current treats and negotiations," says Sanches.

Last March 14th, the Ministry of Health requested the voluntary licensing of three medications: Lopinavir/Ritonavir (Abbot), Efavirenz (Merck Sharp & Dohme), and Tenofovir (Gilead Science Incorporation).

The government is now analyzing labs answers. If negotiations do not reach an agreement, the AIDS Interdisciplinary Brazilian Association (Abia) promises to support a possible government decision to break the patents.

AIDS medications are distributed for free for the 154 thousand patients treated by the public health network. The Ministry's forecast is to treat a total of 180 thousand people this year.

Agência Brasil

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