segunda-feira, janeiro 16, 2006

Brasil lidera coalição para negociar preços

CNN 14.01.06

Representatives from 19 Latin American and Caribbean nations said Saturday the countries will act as a bloc to try to reduce the price of AIDS medication, Brazil's official news agency said.

The countries also said they would invest together and exchange information to begin producing the drugs themselves.

The announcement was made after a three-day meeting in Brasilia aimed at discussing regional AIDS prevention. The conference's final report will be presented at the U.N.'s General Assembly in May.

"It's fundamental the countries unite ... to build effective mechanisms to produce medication locally," said Pedro Chequer, the head of Brazil's AIDS program. "The sole negotiation of price reduction won't guarantee sustainability in the long term."

The final report is expected to recommend the creation of methods to measure access to AIDS prevention and treatment, the Agencia Brasil said. The countries also will call for the help of the international community to overcome political and economical barriers in price negotiations.

In recent years, Brazil has negotiated lower AIDS drug prices by threatening to break patents, without ever actually doing so. Last October, after just such a threat, Brazil reached a deal with Illinois-based Abbott Laboratories Inc. to lower the price on the AIDS drug Kaletra.

Chequer had said at the beginning of the conference that Latin American countries that cannot afford increasingly expensive AIDS medication should consider sidestepping foreign patent holders and manufacture the drugs themselves.

According to World Trade Organization rules, countries can issue licenses to disregard patent rights after negotiating with the patent owners and paying them adequate compensation. Governments that declare a public health emergency can skip the negotiating.

Chequer, who had said earlier in the week that Brazil plans to distribute 1.5 billion condoms in 2006, urged other nations not to ban their use on religious or moral grounds.

Brazil accounts for more than half of all AIDS cases in Latin America and the Caribbean, but the government's aggressive prevention efforts have led to a lower infection rate than many had feared.

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