KEI Statement on Brazil Compulsory License on efavirenz

Friday, 04 May 2007

Knowledge Ecology International
Statement by James Love, +1202.361.3040,

"Brazil's decision to issue a compulsory license on the patents for the AIDS drug efavirenz is an important first step to implement the Doha Declaration’s requirement that the WTO TRIPS agreement "should be interpreted and implemented in a manner supportive of WTO Members' right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all."  We wish Brazil had done this in 2001, when it was first proposed.

"Journalists should mention that several times since 2005 national governments have issued compulsory licenses on Merck's products.   These include  2005 and 2007 compulsory licenses issued by the Italian competition authority and a November 2006 compulsory license on efavirenz patents by the Thailand Ministry of Health, and reportedly a March 2007 compulsory license on efavirenz in Indonesia.  (See links below).

"Brazil has a large and growing population of AIDS patients, and treatment cannot be sustainable without affordable access to the same new drugs that AIDS patients in the U.S. and Europe use.  
"With Brazil and Thailand expanding the market for generic versions of efavirenz, greater economies of scale should push prices down further, eventually to less than $.24 per day.  We hope also that Efavirenz can be included in new generic fixed dose combinations, including those using TDF and FTC, products now sold by Gilead, and licensed to some generic producers in some countries.

"At some point, it will be neccessary to reassess the business model for medicines in developing countries.  Negotiations with patent owners rarely produce affordable prices.  Competition is more effective.  Brazil should go far beyond this single product, and create a system of collective management of intellectual property rights that would extend compulsory license for either all prescription medicines, or a set of essential medicines that includes not only AIDS, but other important health problems, like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease.

"Concerns over R&D should be addressed, but through new thinking about innovation.  Brazil should break the link between drug prices and R&D incentives, by introducing innovation prizes, that reward drug developers for improving health outcomes in Brazil.

See James Love's Blog on this topic in Huffingpost


Recent examples of compulsory licensing of patents

Abbott recently sought compulsory license in US patent dispute