October 16, 2012
On September 3, Indonesia's government quietly issued an order to override patents on seven important medicines used to treat individuals with HIV and hepatitis B, which will allow more inexpensive versions to be manufactured by local pharmaceutical companies. There appeared to be no protest from the pharmaceutical giants, who in the past would have defended their patents very aggressively. The drug patents belong to Merck, GSK, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Abbott, and Gilead. The drugs include Glaxo 's Abacavir, Abbott's Kaletra, and Gilead's tenofovir (Viread) which treats hepatitis B as well as providing the primary prevention treatment for those whose partners are HIV positive.
Indonesia's HIV incidence rate is not particularly high -- UNICEF estimates that nearly 310,000 individuals are infected -- but it does have the fourth highest population in the world and the virus continues to spread. Only approximately 23,000 of the 70,000 individuals infected with HIV who need drug treatment are getting it.