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Friday, 31 August, 2001, 23:15 GMT 00:15 UK
Brazil reaches anti-Aids drug deal
Stacks of drugs on hospital shelves
Roche's drug is vital to Brazil's anti-Aids programme
By Jan Rocha in Sao Paulo

Brazil's Health Minister Jose Serra has announced that he has reached an agreement with the Swiss drug company, Roche, to reduce the price of an essential anti-Aids drug called Nelfinavir.

A week ago the health minister decided to break Roche's patent for the drug and authorise its manufacture in Brazil because he said the company had refused to lower the price.

Announcing the Swiss company's decision to lower the price of the drug, Jose Serra described it as his biggest victory.

Discount price

Nelfinavir is one of 12 that make up the anti-Aids cocktail supplied free to 100,000 Aids patients in Brazil.

The minister said then that the company, Roche, had refused to offer a big enough discount.

Aids drugs
Brazil is pressing for more AIDS drugs to be sold cheaply
Now apparently the Swiss company has agreed to lower its price by 40%, enabling the Brazilians to almost halve the amount they have to spend on this particular drug - one of the most expensive in the anti-Aids cocktail.

The minister said that the decision will strengthen Brazil's case for making the drugs cocktail accessible to the biggest number of Aids patients.

Partnership

He is already negotiating with another multi-national drug company, Glaxo Wellcome, to produce two other drugs for Aids treatment in partnership with Brazilian laboratories.

For the minister, this is the ideal solution because it means that the price of the drug does not depend on the value of the US dollar, which this year already has increased in value by over 25% in relation to Brazil's currency, the real.

See also:

23 Aug 01 | Business
Brazil to break Aids patent
25 Jun 01 | Business
US drops Brazil Aids drugs case
24 Apr 01 | Americas
Brazil wins Aids drugs vote
07 Nov 00 | Americas
Latin America 'faces Aids epidemic'
03 Feb 01 | Americas
Brazil in US Aids drugs row
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