After months of controversy, the Colombian government has unilaterally lowered the price of a Novartis cancer drug by 44 percent, the latest step in a closely watched and particularly heated battle over access to medicines and intellectual property rights.

The move, which had been expected, comes after Colombian Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria issued a “declaration of public interest.” This allows the government to take various steps to reduce the price of a medicine, and Gaviria argued the price cut is justified because the cost for Gleevec is out of reach for some citizens.

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