People living with HIV in Peru protest against high treatment prices

23 January 2015
An HIV ribbon

People living with HIV in Peru have demanded the Minister of Health, Aníbal Velásquez Valdivia, to declare the need for antiretroviral medication a national interest, and to lift the monopoly on medication, making it possible to buy generic treatment at a much lower price. Currently the US pharmaceutical company Brystol-Myers-Squibb has a government monopoly on the provision of the antiretroviral treatment Atazanavir, meaning the government is unable to buy any other treatment brand.

This means that the Peruvian government pays US$10 for a 300 milligrams pill, spending close to US$9 million on Atazanavir tablets each year. Only by lifting the government monopoly of Brystol-Myers-Squibb, can the medication be brought to the market at a much lower price, making it more widely available to Peruvians.

That the medication is overpriced is clear when prices are compared to countries in the same region. In Bolivia, the same medication is 95.4 percent cheaper, and about half the price compared to Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. The Peruvian Network of Patients and Consumers argues that there is no justification for buying Atazanavir at such a high price, and it is very easy to put a mechanism in place which make it possible to buy medication a much lower price. People feel that the Peruvian government is over paying for the needed drugs with tax money and that the pharmaceutical company is making a lot of money on the back of the Peruvian tax payers.

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