02 June 2008

MSD relents on Aids drug

In a move that may result in significant price reductions, MSD has licensed four generic drug makers to sell the Aids drug Efavirenz.

In a move that may result in significant price reductions, the pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharpe and Dohme (MSD) has licensed four generic drug makers to sell the Aids drug Efavirenz, says the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).

MSD, who holds the patent on Efavirenz, has been under increasing pressure to allow more companies to market generic versions of the antiretroviral drug – in the hope that increased competition will bring down the price.

According to the TAC, as much as 64c in every rand spent by the government on first-line Aids treatment is spent on Efavirenz.

No longer anti-competitive
"TAC is pleased to announce that MSD is no longer acting in an anticompetitive way, paving the way for the market entry of a wide range of affordable Efavirenz products," the TAC said in a statement.

Acting on behalf of the TAC, the AIDS Law Project (ALP) last year lodged a complaint with the Competition Commission alleging that MSD – the South African subsidiary of multinational drug company Merck – was unlawfully refusing to license Efavirenz on reasonable terms.

The TAC said they will not pursue this complaint any further since it is now largely a historical complaint. "Instead, TAC will focus on ensuring that the reasonable terms of the licensing agreements are appropriately implemented." – (Health24)

Source: Press release from the Treatment Action Campaign

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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