Middle-income countries are overcoming patents to bring down HIV drug prices
Washington, DC, 25 July 2012 — Middle-income countries are increasingly taking measures to overcome the patents that price drugs out of reach, according to a new report released today by the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Untangling the web of antiretroviral price reductions.
“Our report shows that the newest HIV drugs are now patented in
Unaffordable drug prices
The newest ARVs are unaffordable: a triple combination of the three drugs raltegravir, etravirine and darunavir boosted with ritonavir for people who have failed a second-line regimen, costs $2,486 per person per year in least-developed countries and sub-Saharan
Additionally, over the last two years, lower-middle- and middle-income countries have been locked out of company discount programmes and are forced to negotiate prices on a case-by-case basis, which has led to higher prices. The Untangling report shows that the patient-friendly one-pill-a-day combination of TDF/FTC/EFV (produced by Merck/BMS/Gilead) for the last five years has remained at $1033 in lower-middle income countries, six times more than the generic first-line combination, and countries locked out of these discounts must pay many times more.
Blocked from accessing medicines
Lower-middle-income and middle-income countries are also increasingly being blocked from accessing medicines produced under voluntary license agreements between multinational pharmaceutical companies and generic manufacturers, where the terms and conditions are largely kept secret. The report finds that there is no voluntary license agreement for ARVs that covers all developing countries.
“Multinational companies are trying to give the impression that with voluntary license agreements, all HIV drug access problems are solved, but our report shows that some countries are deliberately being left out, and there are other terms that restrict competition,” said Michelle Childs, Director of Policy/Advocacy at MSF’s Access Campaign.
Several of the newest ARVs are already priced out of reach because they have been patented in
‘Monopolies should not be handed out left and right’
While the country had to begin granting patents under World Trade Organization rules in 2005,
“As more people need access to newer drugs that are priced out of reach, countries should take a close and hard look at their patent laws to make sure that monopolies aren’t being handed out left and right, with dire consequences,” said Childs. “The fact that countries are putting flexible mechanisms into place and are using these is a game-changer.”
MSF provides HIV treatment to 220,000 people in 23 countries.
Find out more about MSF's activities at the International AIDS Conference 2012 on the MSF at IAC site.