Fri, Jul 06, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Brazil, Abbott reach deal on AIDS drug

AP , SAO PAULO, BRAZIL

The Brazilian government and Abbott Laboratories have agreed to reduce the price of an anti-AIDS drug by nearly 30 percent this year, and even more next year, the Health Ministry and the company said.

Wednesday's agreement with the US-based company lowers the price of each Kaletra pill to US$0.73 from US$1.04 until the end of the year. Next year, each pill will cost US$0.68, or ``US$1,000 per patient per year,'' the ministry said.

Kaletra, a protease inhibitor, is one of the most commonly used anti-AIDS drugs in Brazil, which provides free AIDS drugs to anyone who needs them. Brazil manufactures generic versions of several drugs that were in production before the country enacted an intellectual property law in 1997 to join the WTO.

In a pricing dispute over another AIDS drug, Brazil in May bypassed the patent on Edaviren held by Merck & Co to manufacture or buy generic versions.

The Brazilian government rejected Merck's offer to sell the drug at a 30 percent discount -- for US$1.10 per pill, down from US$1.57.

The country was seeking to purchase the drug at US$0.65 per pill, the same price Thailand pays.

Abbott had said it would reduce the price of the drug in 45 "low and low-middle income countries."

"We wanted Brazil to benefit from the same price offered to other countries in the same level of economic development," Heather Mason, Abbott's vice president for Latin American and Canada, said on Wednesday. "It makes it easier for the government of Brazil to provide medicine to a growing number of patients."

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