Brazil’s new Health Minister, Saraiva Felipe, said that the stance of his Ministry will be in favor of breaking the patents of anti-retroviral medications or the purchase of these drugs from other countries that produce the same drugs, in case foreign laboratories don’t lower their prices.
According to Saraiva, almost half of Brazil’s health budget this year is being spent on the purchase of AIDS treatment drugs, and the trend is for this amount to increase, in consequence of the discovery of more efficient medications to treat AIDS victims and the increase in the number of AIDS cases.
“Of the budget total of US$ 1.2 billion (3 billion reais) set aside for drug purchases, nearly US$ 600 million (1.5 billion reais) are spent on imports of anti-retroviral drugs.”
Saraiva Felipe emphasized that the government’s priority is to guarantee the continuation of universal access to AIDS treatment.
“If this country’s program of universal access is threatened by a lack of funds, we will not hesitate to demand compulsory licensing,” the Minister affirmed.
Saraiva informed that the Ministry of Health will resume negotiations with Abbott Laboratories, the American pharmaceutical company that owns the patent for the anti-retroviral drug, Kaletra.
He didn’t say how long the new negotiations will go on, but he said that Brazil’s contracts with the company run through next May.
Yesterday, Saraiva Felipe participated in the closing ceremony of the 3rd Conference of the International Aids Society (IAS), in Rio de Janeiro.
He signed an agreement officializing the creation of the first International HIV/AIDS Technical Cooperation Center, which will have its headquarters in Brasília.
The Center represents a partnership between the Brazilian government and the United Nations AIDS program, intended to help other countries fight the disease.