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Patented
Aug 10, 2006

This might not be the right forum for this, but when are the HIV drug patents expiring? With the introduction of Atripla, it seems like the drug companies are trying to patent and market a new drug so that people won't buy the generics of the drugs individually. Normally, when a generic becomes available, the prices of drugs goes down and I'm just wondering when will there be generic HIV meds?

Response from Dr. Young

Thanks for your post.

As those readers who are familiar with my professional history will know, I believe that drug pricing is a very important issue that affects access to care, both here in the US and abroad.

Some HIV medications are already generic here in the US, first ddI and now AZT. The patents on HIV medications are important elements of protecting intellectual property and provide the catalyst for future drug discovery. I don't think that anyone would say that the sole reason (or benefactor) of the development of tenfovir/FTC/efavirenz (Atripla) is to avoid generics (indeed, one of the engines for this program was the ability to deliver this medication to developing world), but rather patients also benefit from the lower pill count and ease of administration.

Once available, generic medications have the potential to drive down the costs of medications, but really only affect the price of the branded equivalent (in these cases, Videx and Retrovir). That said, HIV medications are very expensive-- as consumers, family members and part of the larger world at large, we should care about how pricing of medications affect access to life-saving medications.

I hope this helps. BY



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