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ate last year, the Colombian Health Ministry unilaterally lowered the price of a Novartis cancer drug by 44 percent, a controversial step that underscored growing tensions between cash-strapped governments and the pharmaceutical industry. Now, though, a different branch of the Colombian government is trying to make it harder for such a move to occur again.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Tourism earlier this month released a draft decree that would establish additional procedures before the government could either unilaterally cut the price of a medicine or issue a compulsory license, which would allow the government to sidestep patents held by a brand-name drug maker and allow another company to make a lower-cost version.

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