Wednesday, March 27, 2013

ARV compulsory licensing in Indonesia - more details emerge

Further details of Indonesia's latest round of compulsory pharmaceutical patent licensing is slowly coming to light. See here for previous reports on this and here for an earlier summary. It is supposed to be one of the largest ever examples of compulsory licensing yet seen. It will enable the generic manufacture of HIV anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) by a local pharma manufacturer called Kimia Pharma. The ARV drugs are still under patent.

The presidential decree that set this in motion stated that the government would compulsorily license various patents for seven HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B medicines. The justification is the “urgent need” to control these diseases.

The goal is to reduce drug costs so reduce HIV mortality. The Indonesian Association of Physicians in AIDS Care is supporting the move publicly. The drugs in question are what are called second-line ARVs, such as tenofovir, emtricitabine, and lopinavir/ritonavir. These are apparently made by Atripla, Gilead and Abbott.

Although TRIPS allows compulsory licensing for public health purposes the pharmaceutical industry objects to it often as a 'thin end of the wedge' situation. In Indonesia it is arguable that HIV/AIDS is not at epidemic proportions, but it is growing fast having increased 25% in a decade when other countries began to control it. It appears more precautionary if the government data is accurate. That may not be the case however.

IP Komodo comments that healthcare is an area where Indonesia's government is unusually more forthright and proactive than some of its ASEAN neighbors. 

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