[Ip-health] PhRMA is angered by Colombia’s move to cut prices for hepatitis C drugs

Kim Treanor kim.treanor at keionline.org
Wed Jan 17 08:01:28 PST 2018


PhRMA is angered by Colombia’s move to cut prices for hepatitis C drugs
Ed Silverman in Stat News on 16 January 2018

In the latest battle between drug makers and the Colombian government, an
industry trade group has asked the Colombian health minister to scrap a
move that is designed to unilaterally lower the prices of hepatitis C drugs
or, eventually, issue compulsory licenses.

The move comes after Colombian Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria last month
issued a resolution to determine whether a so-called declaration of public
interest should be pursued, a step needed to lower prices. In a letter sent
to the minister on Monday, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of
America argued the resolution is “legally and procedurally deficient,” and
should be revoked.


“Rather than demonstrating any lack of access to Hepatitis C medicines in
Colombia, the (move) appears to be driven solely by a desire to use the
process to secure drastic and arbitrary price reductions for an entire
class of medicines,” the letter stated.


The trade group intimates that by pursuing its declaration, the Colombian
government could undermine an existing trade pact with the U.S. and,
moreover, its efforts to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development, an intergovernmental group of three dozen countries that was
created to stimulate economic progress and world trade.


That tussle became a flashpoint in the debate over licensing, however, when
staffers from both the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and the U.S. trade
representative met with Colombian embassy officials in Washington, D.C.,
and warned that support would be withdrawn for a free trade agreement and
$450 million in backing for a peace initiative between the Colombian
government and Marxist rebels.

The pressure sparked condemnation from some Democratic lawmakers that
accused the U.S. trade rep of exerting undue pressure. Ultimately, the
Colombian health minister issued a declaration of public interest anyway
and unilaterally cut the price for Gleevec, which Novartis is appealing.


“The fact that more than one in a hundred persons is infected is actually a
huge burden of the disease, perhaps not compared to some countries with
super high rates of infection, but certainly compared to any other serious
disease, and unless Colombia gets the drugs very cheap, it will not treat
everyone that they could diagnose,” said Jamie Love of Knowledge Ecology
International, an advocacy group.


Kim Treanor
Knowledge Ecology International
kim.treanor at keionline.org
tel.: +1.202.332.2670 <(202)%20332-2670>

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