Below is the Statement of the Grupo de Trabalho Sobre, Propriedade Intelectual on the Brazlian government’s decision to annul Abbott Laboratories’ patent on lopinavir+ritonavir, an important antiretroviral medicine for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. The statement was originally released on the 14th of March.
Through an article published by the newspaper Folha de São Paulo on March 9, 2012, the decision issued by Judge Daniela Pereira Madeira from the Federal Court of Rio de Janeiro became widely known. On February 23rd, the Judge granted the request made by the company Cristália, a Brazilian laboratory that produces generics, which demanded the annulment of patent PP1100397-99, held by Abbott Laboratories. Granted through the pipeline mechanism, the patent prevents the local production or importation of generic versions of the drug ritonavir and lopinavir (lop/r) (brand name Kaletra®), used to treat HIV infection. Thus, the Brazilian government can only buy the medicine from Abbott, despite the existence of generic versions sold in the international market at much lower prices. The price paid by Brazil is US$763 per patient/year, but there are generic versions of approved quality by the World Health Organization (WHO) sold for US$402 per patient/year, a price 47% lower.
GTPI welcomes the decision of the Judge since it converges with several actions taken by the group in recent years to put an end to undue monopolies assaulting the public resources and harming people who need essential medicines. In relation to the drug lop/r, GTPI has: denounced abuses in the contract negotiated between the Brazilian government and Abbott in 2005; filed a public civil action for the government to issue a compulsory license, allowing the purchase and production of generic versions; and actively avoiding monopoly extension through oppositions to patent applications filed by the Abbott. In addition, a debate that GTPI has taken to the Brazilian Supreme Court, regarding the unconstitutionality of ‘pipeline’ patents, was considered in the judge’s decision, as an argument for the annulment of the patent.