Colombian NGOs sue government for HIV/AIDS drug compulsory license

Bogotá, Colombia – Wednesday, September 16, 2009 –

Today, NGOs, attorneys and activists filed suit in Colombian court to compel the government to authorize price-lowering generic competition with Abbott Laboratories’ costly HIV/AIDS treatment Kaletra (lopinavir+ritonavir, LPV/r).

The “acción popular” demands an open compulsory license allowing any producer that can demonstrate drug safety and efficacy and good manufacturing practices to use patented technology to bring generic LPV/r to market.

Chicago-based Abbott enjoys a LPV/r monopoly in Colombia, where Kaletra, a key second-line HIV/AIDS medicine, ranks consistently among the health system’s most expensive annual medicine purchases and routinely sells for well over $3,000 per person per year. Global competitive prices have dropped under $500. Earlier this year, in response to Colombian NGOS administrative request for a compulsory license, the Colombian government imposed price ceilings on the drug – approximately $1,000 for public sector sales and $1,600 for the private sector. But recent reports suggest Abbott has violated the price order in its transactions with at least some purchasers. The National Commission on Medicine Prices is investigating.

The eighty-page acción popular cites state failures to provide for Constitutional and collective rights to health. It names the health ministry, patent office, drug regulatory authority and Abbott Laboratories as defendants. Plaintiffs include Fundación IFARMA, Fundación Misión Salud, RECOLVIH (Colombian network of people living with HIV/AIDS), and attorneys Luz Marina Umbasía (in her personal capacity), Giomar Angélica Aguilar and Germán Rincón Perfetti.

We will occasionaly issue updates on the suit’s progress and also hope provide more information soon. With questions, English speakers can contact Peter Maybarduk at Essential Action ([email protected]) or Francisco Rossi of the Colombian Foundation IFARMA, a plaintiff in the suit ([email protected]).