COL. The pharmaceutical industry opposes lowering the price of medications for the treatment of hepatitis c
Colombia
4 enero 2018

After the Colombian Ministry of Health published a resolution to establish the public interest reasons for which access to antiviral medications should be facilitated, the pharmaceutical corporations have opposed the decision to open marketplace competition to more companies. Therefore, it is clear that private sector profits depend on escalating costs that are unacceptable for the treatment of patients.

The discussion also took place at the World Hepatitis Summit, sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA), and gave rise to the study undertaken by the presidential cabinet agency. The analysis involves taking note of who holds the patents that allow prescriptions for this condition to be sold and taking away their marketing exclusivity.

Organizations interested in advances in the field have received the Ministry’s decision with satisfaction, given the 71 million people who currently suffer from this condition and the 400,000 individuals who lose their lives each year as a result of this illness. Hepatitis C no longer represents a difficult challenge in the medical field worldwide thanks to treatments based on direct-acting antivirals (DAA) which cure the disease in 95% of cases, even though there is still no preventive vaccine available.

The reason for this measure is to expand access to these medications – which is often hampered because of their high cost – and thus benefit from them in terms of their efficacy, safety, and tolerance (in comparison to more outdated alternatives). The Colombian government’s centralized purchases in July 2017 were a first step in the fight to bring prices down, and significantly impacted savings and distribution for citizens affected by this disease.

The organizations that bring the pharmaceutical companies together therefore consider that it is unnecessary to delve into measures of this kind, and at the same time the stakeholders point to the significant reduction in final costs that such measures would represent (by preventing these costs from exceeding the million dollar mark). The increased issuance of patents should bring the study of the quality of the drugs produced to the forefront, for the purpose of avoiding a monopoly as a result of poor products.

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