Brazil authorizes firms to override patents on anti-HIV drugs
Brazil on Friday authorized generic drug firms in the country to manufacture cheap versions of patented anti-HIV medications after negotiations for price discounts on the patented medications failed, The Wall Street Journal reports. Government officials had been negotiating with Abbott Laboratories, Merck, and Roche to secure a 40% discount on three anti-HIV medications--Kaletra, Sustiva, and Viracept--made by the companies but succeeded in achieving just a 6.7% price reduction. The price of those three medications account for 63% of Brazil's annual $200 million budget for anti-HIV medications. Brazilian health officials say generic versions of the drugs would cost just a fraction of their current price. The decree allowing the generic firms to override the patent protections on the drugs was signed by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. It also permits the country to import generic versions of the medications if Brazil's generic firms are unable to make them.