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Brazil urges
Latin American nations to make generic anti-HIV drugs

Brazil urges
Latin American nations to make generic anti-HIV drugs

Brazilian AIDS chief Pedro Chequer is calling on Latin American countries unable to import costly anti-HIV drugs to consider sidestepping foreign patent holders and making the drugs themselves. Under World Trade Organization rules, countries can issue licenses to disregard patents after negotiating to pay patent holders adequate compensation. However, governments that declare a public health emergency can forego the negotiations.

Brazil has negotiated lower drug prices by threatening to break foreign patents; it has not actually done so yet. It used this strategy again in October 2005 when it reached a deal with Abbott Laboratories to cut the price of Kaletra from $1.17 per pill to 63 cents. The lower price will save Brazil $340 million over six years.

Brazil provides free antiretroviral drugs to about 160,000 patients, and the budget for its AIDS program this year, $570 million, is up more than 21% from last year. Chequer said Brazil will distribute 1.5 billion condoms this year, and he urges other countries not to ban them based on religious or moral objections. Though Brazil is home to more than half of the AIDS cases in Latin America, its ambitious prevention efforts have resulted in a much lower infection rate than was once forecast. (AP)

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