Abbott Laboratories faced with anti-Aids drug dilemma
Monday 04 July 2005
The Latin American emerging economy served notice last month it would use powers under global trade rules to break Abbott's patent and make a generic copy of the Kaletra pill to cut the costs of its fight against the disease.
Abbott issued a vitriolic response last week, accusing Brazilian politicians of putting "short-term manoeuvring" over the interests of its own people.
It has to decide within 10 days of the request whether to cut its prices or lose its business to a Brazilian manufacturer that will make them for half the $1.17 Abbott charges. The deadline is understood to fall on Wednesday.
The spat is a test case that will have huge implications for both the global fight against HIV/Aids and the biotech industry in the UK, US and Europe.
It would be the first time a country has invoked its rights under concessions won during World Trade Organisation negotiations that allows governments to make cheap copies of drugs needed to tackle local health emergencies.
The Brazilian government says that as many as 600,000 Brazilians carry the virus and forecasts that by 2008 it will be spending $520m (£290m) a year on a cocktail of drugs including Kaletra.
"Brazil is concerned about doing a good job of treating those Brazilians who need it, with the proper medication," said Humberto Costa, the country's health minister.
Health and poverty groups fully support Brazil's action. Jim Kim, director of the department of HIV/Aids at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, said: "The Brazilian government is perfectly within its rights to suspend the patent of Kaletra ... so as to develop it at more accessible prices."
Oxfam said buying Aids drugs from Abbott and its fellow US giants Merck and Gilead Sciences used up 67 per cent of the country's budget for tackling the disease.
In its statement, Abbott said that as the world's ninth-largest economy, Brazil's demand for the same rights as the poorest countries was "against the spirit" of the agreement. It said: "Such a mis-step puts short-term manoeuvring ahead of the access to new and improved treatments."
It said compulsory licensing would have "significant negative consequences" for the development of future treatments for a range of diseases.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
- 1 Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
- 2 Loom bands: Bids for dress made from colourful rubber pass £170,000 on eBay
- 3 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week