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Novartis still has a chance in Colombia

Staff writer ▼ | May 18, 2016
The door remains open for Novartis to reach a deal with Colombia to lower the cost of cancer drug imatinib and prevent the Andean country from allowing generic production of the medication.
Novartis
Medicine   Colombia asked Novartis to lower the price
Colombia asked Novartis to lower the price of imatinib, which is used to treat leukemia and other cancers, in an effort to save costs for the country's beleaguered healthcare system but negotiations broke down and prompted the country to announce it may declare a compulsory license.

Compulsory licenses permit companies to make cheaper generic versions of medications considered vital to public health, overriding drugs patents.

"We have not shut the door to negotiations, we're keeping it open, but not for much longer," Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria told Reuters in an interview late on Tuesday.

Government sources said the ministry's deadline for reaching a deal is the end of May.

The drug, sold under brand names Glivec or Gleevec, was not under patent in Colombia between 2003 and 2012, sparking competition from generic producers whose prices are 197 percent cheaper than Novartis, according to the health ministry. The current patent is valid until mid-2018.

The declaration would mark the first time Colombia has used compulsory licensing.


 

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