Abbott Drops AIDS Drug Price in response to Thailand's hardball.

Moral of the story, you have to play hardball with the drug companies. Use your power as a sovereign country. You are a market to them, their threats to stop selling their drugs in your country cannot be taken seriously because if the drug is made unavailable in your country, that gives you even more right to make it yourself (or better, buy it from India!). I mean what are they going to do, invade you? The worst you will get is a scolding and lecture from the U.S ambassdor on patents and free trade, just ignore it, or better still, protest outside the embassy!

Chemical & Engineering News: Latest News – Abbott Drops AIDS Drug Price

Abbott Drops AIDS Drug Price, move follows compulsory licensing decision by Thailand

Jean-François Tremblay

Abbott Laboratories will drop its price for Kaletra, a protease inhibitor used to treat AIDS, to the equivalent of $1,000 per patient per year in 40 developing countries.

The move, facilitated by the World Health Organization, is apparently Abbott’s response to a decision by Thailand earlier this year to resort to compulsory licensing of Kaletra, a practice that reduces health care costs in a way that pharmaceutical companies view as patent infringement (C&EN, Feb. 5, page 11).

Following Thailand’s decision, Abbott announced that it would stop selling Kaletra and other patented drugs in Thailand, a move that the nongovernmental organization Doctors Without Borders called “a major betrayal of patients.”Abbott had already been under fire for not supplying Kaletra to several other low-income countries.

The price of $1,000 per year per patient, Abbott says, is 55% less than the average price at which the drug is now sold in the 40 countries. The company says it wants to increase drug affordability while “preserving the system that enables the discovery of new medicines.

Compulsory licensing is a perfectly legal option underlined by TRIPs (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) in response to national emergencies (AIDs is a national emergency, isn’t it?). More importantly, governments in poorer countries really should invoke this provision as much as they can. Because every time they invoke it, they make big pharma come to the bargaining table.

$1000 per patient per year is still a lot of money, though, I would encourage Thailand to play even more hardball!

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