Colombia to Make HIV Treatment More Accessible Through Compulsory Licensing

With the compulsory license kicking in, the Ministry of Health will be able to purchase a yearly treatment per patient at the price of approximately $44.

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[Illustration courtesy: www.ox.ac.uk]

After years of mobilization and advocacy, Dolutegravir—a first-line drug in HIV treatment—will be more widely available in Colombia, thanks to a compulsory license issued by the government at the end of April. A compulsory license is when a government allows the production, selling, or import of a patented medicine without the consent of the patent owner. This is the first compulsory license ever issued by the Colombian government for the Ministry of Health to use, and it is expected to ensure safer and better treatment for thousands of people, many of whom are migrants.

Until now, Dolutegravir was only available in Colombia under a patent held by a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi. It cost $1,224 to secure a yearly treatment for just one patient, which led to underuse in the country. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warned that they have been unable to use it in their programs in Colombia due to costs.

With the compulsory license kicking in, the Ministry of Health will be able to purchase a yearly treatment per patient at the price of approximately $44. “In practical terms, this means the government will now be able to treat 27 people with generics for the cost of one branded regimen,” explained Guillermina Alaniz, director of Global Advocacy and Policy at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, applauding the government’s decision.

In other countries, Dolutegravir is available at lower prices, starting from as little as $23 per patient per year, through voluntary licenses from the Medicines Patent Pool.

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