Brazil’s National Health Council sent Thursday, August 11, a document to the Brazilian Minister of Health recommending he breaks the patents – by compulsory licensing – of three AIDS medications: Lopinavir/Ritonavir, known as Kaletra, Efavirenz, and Tenofovir.
The Brazilian government spends around US$ 335 million (800 million reais) on these drugs every year.
The resolution, which was approved unanimously by the 20 members of the Council, also advises breaking off negotiations with the pharmaceutical laboratories that manufacture these medications.
The Ministry has been trying to reach agreements with these companies for at least two years. A capsule of Kaletra currently costs Brazil US$ 1.17 (2.73 reais, at today’s exchange rate). If the drug were produced here, it would cost US$ 0.41 (0.95 reais).
The Council also proposes that local production be initiated. At present, Brazilian laboratories are already manufacturing eight types of anti-retroviral drugs.
These drugs, together with nine imported medications, are distributed to the six countries that have AIDS treatment agreements with Brazil: Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, East Timor, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
The average annual cost per patient is around US$ 2,500. Brazil has 163,000 anti-retroviral users.
The authorization of compulsory licensing is permitted by Brazilian law when it is a question of health, nutrition, environmental defense, or the country’s technological or socioeconomic development.
According to the government, the right is guaranteed by Article 71 of the Brazilian Patent Law (9279/96), Executive Decrees 3201/99 and 4830/03, the international Trips Agreement (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), and the Doha Declaration, which applies the Trips to matters of public health.