Saturday, May 05, 2007

Brazil Puts HIV+ People Before Patents is reporting that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva issued a "compulsory licence" on Friday May 4th which would allow the country to bypass Merck's patent on the anti-retroviral drug Efavirenz in order to produce generic version of the medicine which it will distribute free to HIV+ Brazilians. The BBC reported:
Merck offered Brazil almost a third off the cost - pricing the pills at $1.10 instead of $1.59.

But Brazil wanted its discount pegged at same level as Thailand, which pays just $0.65 per pill.

Now, though, it will source Indian-made versions of Efavirenz for just $0.45 each.

Nearly 75,000 Brazilians use Efavirenz although the country distributes free anti-HIV drugs to 180,000 of its citizens. By issuing the compulsory licence, Brazil is likely to save $240 million between now and 2012 when the Merck patent for the drug expires, the Brazil Health Minstry exstimates.

The evil Michael Weinstein, executive director of the equally monstrous AIDS Healthcare Foundation, agrees with Mad Professah (just this once!) that Brazil is doing a wonderful thing by putting patients before patents (and profits). "We salute the courage of countries such as Brazil, Thailand and Mexico who are fighting to ensure drug access for AIDSpatients the world over. Today is a victory for AIDS activists and patientseverywhere, and proof that drug companies will go down in defeat every time they place themselves in the way of justice for AIDS patients."

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