The Argentine Community of People Living with HIV requested the rejection of a patent for an essential HIV/AIDS medicine. If the Argentine Patent Office does grant the this request, Argentina could produce generic versions at a lower cost representing a potential saving of over US$11 million.
Argentina April 13th, 2015.- The Grupo Efecto Positivo Foundation (FGEP) in collaboration with the Argentine Network of Positive People (Redar Positiva) presented a wake-up call to the Argentine Patent Office (INPI) to reject the patent application presented by Gilead Laboratories for an essential drug for treating people with HIV (tenofovir + emtricitabine 300mg 200mg) (TDF + FTC), under commercial name TRUVADA®, to be commercialized exclusively in the country and at an excessively high price.
The National AIDS Office (DNSyETS) of the Argentine Ministry of Health currently provides treatment for 41,313 people who benefit from its National AIDS Program, of which 5,232 people are treated with TDF + FTC (TRUVADA®).
Argentina invests in TRUVADA® AR$102,953,203 (US$12,054,528) per year, which represents a 23% of the Program’s annual budget for medicines and also represents a multi-million business for American laboratory Gilead.
According to the publication «Untangling the Web» from the international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders-MSF, there is available at international markets a generic version of TDF + FTC to US$74 per person per year which shows that the cost of production of this drug is significantly low.
According to these figures if the National Program buys the generic version produced in India it could save approximately US$11,246,000.
On the occasion of the presentation of the wake-up call, FGEP and Redar Positiva held a meeting with the President of the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) Dr. Mario Roberto Aramburu which has jurisdiction whether to grant or reject the alleged patent.
«… The delay in resolving the patent requests discourages the entry of affordable generic versions to the national medicines market that could ensure the sustainability of the National Program for Universal Access to HIV-AIDS drugs.» Said Alex Freyre from the Argentine Network of Positive People.
«The patent application by Gilead on TDF + FTC should be rejected because it does not meet the patentability requirements of the National Patent Law. Gilead intends to claim a patent on a combination of two known active principles which can be found in the public domain, and according to the patent examination guidelines for pharmaceutical patents they are not patentable «said Lorena Di Giano, FGEP’s Executive Director.
«Drugs are not a commodity, they are a social good to ensure access to the Fundamental Human Right to Health» said Jose Maria Di Bello – Coordinator of the Global Network of People Living with HIV of Red Cross and Red Crescent (RCRC+), signer of the wake-up call.