Brazil’s Ministry of Health estimates that 600,000 Brazilians are carriers of the HIV virus. "It is inevitable that, besides the 170 thousand who are currently being treated, another 400 thousand will enter the program in the next few years.
"That means that drug purchases will consume substantially more resources in the coming years," affirms Jorge Beloqui, from the São Paulo non-governmental organization (NGO), Pro-Life Interest Group (GIV),
Yesterday, December 1st, the Federal Public Defense Ministry and eight NGOs filed a public civil suit requiring the government to adopt compulsory licensing of Kaletra, one of the medications used in treating AIDS.
If the court issues a favorable ruling, the patent will be broken almost immediately, and national laboratories will be able to produce a cheaper, generic version of the drug.
Of the 170 thousand AIDS patients treated with the anti-retroviral "cocktail" in Brazil, 23,000 take Kaletra, which is one of the 17 anti-retroviral medications distributed for free by the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s National STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)/AIDS Program.
Kaletra consumes 27% of the program’s budgetary resources for anti-AIDS drug purchases, which total US$ 426 million (945 million reais). At present, the country imports four of the anti-retroviral drugs. Together, these four medications consume 65% of the budget.
"If Brazil could produce them at less cost, it would spend less on drug purchases and could give more attention to other steps to combat AIDS," Beloqui says.