US Chamber of Commerce defends Swiss drug company charging excessive prices in Colombia

David Hirschmann, US Chamber, claims efforts to curb high prices for cancer drugs are “a destructive course.”

The US Chamber of Commerce might consider renaming itself the US/Swiss Chamber of Commerce, after their most recent attack on the Colombia Minister of Health (MoH) announcement that a “Declaration of Public Interest” would be issued for the patents on the cancer drug imatinib, held by the Swiss company Novartis. In the US Chamber’s defense of the Swiss drug company, they don’t mention the fact that Novartis has earned about $48 billion from sales of imatinib (sold by Novartis under the brand names Gleevec or Glivec) since the drug was put on the market, including more than $380 million per month in 2015. David Hirschmann, the Chamber’s lead on this issue, was raised in Guatemala, and is aware of the vast differences in incomes between and within countries in the Americas. Hirschmann is earning his paycheck by attacking the ability of governments to provide universal access to high quality care, both for cancer, where drugs are routinely overpriced, and for all other health care services, which are impacted adversely by the crushing burden of paying for patented cancer drugs.

U.S. Chamber Condemns Colombian Health Minister’s Move Toward Stripping Privately-Held Patents
Thursday, June 9, 2016 – 7:15pm
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) President and CEO, David Hirschmann, issued the following statement in response to a Declaration of Public Interest released by Colombian Minister of Health, Alejandro Gaviria. The Declaration formally moves Colombia toward stripping the patent for leukemia drug, Glivec, using a rare tactic known as a compulsory license.

“The Colombian Health Ministry today took one more step toward the issue of a compulsory license, which strips a patent from a private company.

“With this action, no one stands to lose more than Colombia itself. Experience has shown that compulsory licenses actually restrict the very access and affordability of medicines.

“Compulsory licenses directly undermine global innovation by eroding global intellectual property standards and stifling investment.

“These actions are inconsistent with Colombia’s history as a stable, pro-growth economy. We urge the Government of Colombia to abandon this destructive course and reject Minister Gaviria’s declaration.”

More on this dispute here: /colombia