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The battle between cash-strapped governments and drug makers over access to medicines is now playing out in Peru, where the Congressional Health Commission on Thursday voted in favor of pursuing a compulsory license for an HIV medicine sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

The move, which must now be taken up by the Peruvian Congress, comes two years after patient advocates pushed the government to issue a license. They claim the medicine, which is called Reyataz, is more expensive in some neighboring countries and accounts for an outsized share of government spending on HIV medications.


“The right to health comes before any business interest because it is a fundamental right protected by the General Health Law,” said Congressman Hernando Cevallos, who sponsored the bill, in a statement issued by several advocacy groups. The groups say about $23 million has been spent on the drug over the past four years.

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