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Brazil Government In Contention With Merck Over Anti-AIDS Drug

The Brazil government is up against giant drug manufacturers- Merck &Co. The issue in contention is the pricey anti-AIDS drug Efavirenz. According to the Brazilian government, there is no call to charge as much as 1.59 US dollars for a 600mg pill when Thailand is paying 65 cents for the same.

Negotiations between Merck and the Brazilian government began last November. Last week the government declared the drug a public interest one. This means that Merck has just a few days to make the best out of a sticky situation. It will have to settle for a lower price of the drug or else face the chances of the drug being stripped of its patent or a compulsory license issued against it.

Meanwhile the Thai government has made a move dubbed a lifesaver, by its AIDS activists- the government has stripped the patents of three anti-AIDS drugs. In response to this, the United States has placed Thailand on a list of copyright violators .In Bangkok, AIDS activists rallied outside the U.S. Embassy on Thursday protesting the decision.

Meanwhile in Brazil, the government has already refused a discount by 30 percent of the drug. Said Merck spokeswoman Amy Rose: We at Merck were disappointed to have had what we consider to be a fair offer rejected by the government of Brazil. "We remain flexible, open and committed to the negotiations", she added.

The matter now will be referred to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's chief of staff who will decide whether to issue the compulsory license and allow Brazil to manufacture the drug or to buy generic versions while paying Merck a small royalty.

Efavirenz is the drug most widely used by Brazil's anti-AIDS program, which provides free medication for anyone who needs it. Currently 75,000 of the 180,000 Brazilians who receive the free cocktail of anti-AIDS drug use efavirenz.

Victims of AIDS in the United States, who are so disabled by the disorder that they have to
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