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Indonesia Issues Order To Override Patents On 7 HIV, Hepatitis Drugs

“Indonesia’s government has quietly issued an order to override the patents on seven important medicines used to treat people with HIV and hepatitis B and allow cheap versions to be made by local drug companies,” Guardian Health Editor Sarah Boseley reports in her “Global Health Blog.” “The ‘government use’ order was made on 3 September, but with no fanfare and, as yet, no public outcry from the pharmaceutical giants which, in the past, used to defend their patents volubly and aggressively — through the courts as well as diplomatic back-channels,” Boseley writes (10/11). Reuters notes the move “follow[s] the lead” of other Asian nations, including India and China, “that have allowed the production of cheap generic drugs that cut into the sales of global pharmaceutical companies” (Bigg/Hirschler, 10/12).

“It appears that the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has decided to license the entire slate of medicines its population needs against HIV,” Boseley states in her blog, adding, “It already had an order from 2007 for three older HIV drugs (efavirenz, lamivudine and nevirapine), but the new decree states specifically that this is ‘no longer sufficient.'” She notes, “The drug patents belong to Merck, GSK, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Abbott, and Gilead.” According to the blog, “Only around 23,000 of the 70,000 people with HIV who need drug treatment [in Indonesia] are getting it” (10/11).