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After weeks of deliberations, the Colombia health minister is proceeding with plans to unilaterally lower the price of a Novartis cancer drug that has become the latest symbol of the battle between access to medicines and intellectual property rights.

The amount of the reduction has not been announced, but Colombia media reported Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria may drop the price for Gleevec by up to 45 percent. Patient advocacy groups note that the annual cost of the drug is roughly $15,000, compared with per capita gross national income of about $8,000. This would amount to “significant savings for the whole health system,” the patient groups said.


[UPDATE: Gaviria tells us that the health ministry planned to set the new price this month, but has just received a formal petition from the US Trade Representative seeking 30 days to submit. “We are studying the petition. In any case, we don’t want to put this off much more,” he tells us.]

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  • ‘Pricing systems should be based on transparent rules…”. Who is Mr Tooey trying to kid? Apply that standard to ‘the system of pharmaceutical product pricing’ and black is the new crystal, as it were.

  • US has a sterling history of withdrawing support in fights against Marxist rebels in Latin America. The last time we withdrew support Anastasio Somoza wound up assassinated and Daniel Ortega essentially became El Presidente for life. PhRMa is in way over its head on this one.

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