Representatives of Corporacion Innovarte, Patient Foundation Nuevo Renacer, Pharmaceutical Chemists Guild, and cancer and hepatitis patients attended the Presidential Palace “La Moneda” on November 10th to deliver a letter to the Chilean President of the Republic, Michelle Bachelet, asking her to instruct the Ministry of Health to declare that there are public health reasons justifying the issuance of non voluntary licenses for the patents that prevent entry into Chile of the latest generics for the treatment of Hepatitis C and Prostate Cancer.
They were supported by a number of congressmen, such as Giorgio Jackson, Miguel Ángel Alvarado and Gabriel Boric.
The request to the Ministry of Health was formulated in March 2017 and signed by civil society groups and parliamentarians from various sectors. The Ministry of Health was urged to declare that the entry of last-generation generic drugs should be allowed to the country for public health reasons – sofosbuvir for hepatitis C and enzutalmide for prostatic cancer – through compulsory licenses of the pharmaceutical patents that restrict their access. This request has not been answered by the Ministry of Health after more than 6 months, and a response is expected soon.
On the occasion, Luis Villarroel, Director of Innovarte, the NGO leading this process in Chile, said that “this would significantly reduce the value of the drug for the case of hepatitis C, from over US $60,000 in pharmacies to less than US $650. In the case of enzutalmide for prostatic cancer, its monthly cost is close to US $9,500, which is not possible for the vast majority of patients, but if compulsory licenses are granted, there is a possibility of treatment with generics in the future at very low prices.”
Also, if the MoH occupies the compulsory licensing mechanism, as other countries such as Malaysia have done to cover Hepatitis C, the price of more than US $11,000 that is currently canceled by the Ministry of Health for treatment could be reduced to less than US $600, which could release millions to expand coverage or redirect them to other diseases and save thousands of lives.
It should be noted that the Chilean Chamber of Deputies passed a resolution in January this year, which required the Ministry of Health to integrate the compulsory licenses in its medication purchase policies. Now, the resolution should be complied with.