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Brazil's health minister urges other countries to create their own generic anti-HIV drugs

Brazil's health minister urges other countries to create their own generic anti-HIV drugs

Brazil's health minister on Monday encouraged other countries to use the world trade body's rules on intellectual property to challenge pharmaceutical giants in their pricing policy on anti-HIV drugs. Last week Brazil threatened to break the patent on Abbott Laboratories' antiretroviral drug Kaletra on the grounds that the drug was too expensive and was interfering with the country's ability to treat people. "I think that we can stimulate with this decision that other countries use this legal mechanism," said Humberto Costa, Brazil's minister of health. He said Brazil was able to act on its own because it has legislation that allows the government to break drug patents in cases of a health emergency or if it rules the pharmaceutical industry is engaged in abusive pricing. But he said other countries could take similar bold steps to fight AIDS by using world trade mechanisms. The World Trade Organization's intellectual property agreement allows governments to manufacture generic versions of patented drugs under certain circumstances, including a public health crisis. In announcing its intention to break the patent, Brazil said Kaletra's price was so high that it created a public health threat. Costa said Kaletra costs $2,630 per patient per year and that Brazil could cut that by about 50% by making a generic version of the drug. Brazil said it would save $54 million by creating a generic version of Kaletra. (AP)

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