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Brazil in Last-Minute Talks With Abbott on Antiretroviral Drug Prices; Country Might Break Patent If No Agreement

July 8, 2005

Brazilian health officials on Thursday held last-minute talks with Abbott Laboratories on lowering the price of its antiretroviral drug Kaletra, giving the company until midnight to reduce the price before Brazil begins producing low-cost, generic versions of the medication, the Associated Press reports (Astor, Associated Press, 7/7). The Brazilian government last month announced that it would break Abbott's patent on Kaletra unless the company lowered the drug's price 42% to $1.17 per pill. Outgoing Brazilian Health Minister Humberto Costa on June 24 informed Abbott of the country's ultimatum regarding Kaletra, saying that under the World Trade Organization's intellectual property agreement, governments can approve the domestic production of generic versions of patented drugs during emergency public health situations if they fail to reach an agreement with the patent holder. Costa has said it would take about one year for Brazil to establish facilities to produce and test a generic version of Kaletra for efficacy and safety. Brazil also is negotiating price reductions for Merck's efavirenz and Gilead's tenofovir (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/6). Abbott on Thursday presented Brazil with a new proposal, which health ministers are reviewing and likely will respond to on Friday, according to BBC News (Kingstone, BBC News, 7/8). Saraiva Felipe on Wednesday was named to replace Costa as health minister. Felipe is expected to continue the pursuit of less-expensive antiretroviral treatment for the country's 170,000 HIV/AIDS patients (Associated Press, 7/7).

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