Second-Line Drugs Put Big Burden on Brazil’s AIDS Program

The deputy director of Brazil’s Ministry of Health’s National Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS (STD/AIDS) Program, Carlos Passarelli, said that the costs of this program have been growing.

The increase has to do with new medicines that have patent protection, but he emphasized that the federal government has been negotiating with the manufacturers.

According to Passarelli, the big increase in outlays on medicines began in 2001, when AIDS patients in Brazil began to be treated with what are referred to as second-line products.

In an interview with the National Radio’s "Morning News" program, he explained that these treatments are more complex, employing new drugs for patients who do not respond well to first-line medications.

Brazil has been producing first-line remedies since the start of the decade of the 1990’s, when domestic laboratories began manufacturing AZT. In 1995 government laboratories initiated production of anti-retroviral drugs.

"The utilization of new medications implies greater costs, since they are protected by patents; thus, there is no competition in the production of these medications, because each one is manufactured exclusively by the company that holds the patent," the director observed.

He informed that for the past two years the Ministry of Health, through its AIDS program, has been attempting to persuade government authorities to expand domestic anti-retroviral production capacity and create instruments to effectuate this production without violating international treaties.

Agência Brasil

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