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Brazil will break patent on Kaletra

Brazil will break patent on Kaletra

Brazil will break the patent on Abbott Laboratories' protease inhibitor Kaletra and begin making generic versions of the drug unless Abbott lowers the price of the pill by 42% within 10 days, health officials announced Friday. Brazilian health minister Humberto Costa informed Abbott that the company must lower the cost of the drug to $1.17 per pill. A generic version of the drug made by Brazilian state-run laboratory Farmanguinhos would cost only 68 cents per pill, according to Costa. The country would break the patent under national and international laws that allow generic versions of patented drugs to be made during periods of national emergencies. If the patent is broken, it would be mark the first time any government has broken one on an HIV antiretroviral drug and the first time Brazil broken a patent on any medication. Abbott says the nation does not have a legal basis to break the patent on Kaletra and says the company already sells it at the lowest price outside of Africa. "A compulsory license is not in the best interest of Brazilian patients because it puts the government's desire to cut health care spending ahead of patients' need for new and better treatments," Abbott said in a press release. The company did not say how it planned to respond to Brazil's announcement. Brazil is currently negotiating for price reductions on Merck's Sustiva and Gilead Science's Viread. The country already makes several generic versions of anti-HIV drugs, which it provides for free to its HIV-positive citizens through the nation's highly touted HIV prevention and treatment program. U.S. AIDS advocates praised the decision by Brazilian officials to break patents on anti-HIV drugs that pharmaceutical companies will not steeply discount. "The medicines are critical for HIV treatment when initial combinations of medicine have failed," said Asia Russell of Health Global Access Project. "The high cost of second generation patented HIV/AIDS drugs threatens the sustainability of treatment programs not only in Brazil but throughout the developing world. Now other countries, particularly countries with the capacity to produce and export medicines to other countries, must follow suit and break the patent monopolies of overpriced AIDS drugs in order to ensure access to affordable lifelong treatment."

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