AHF Praises Colombia’s Stand for Accessible HIV Treatment

In Colombia, Global Advocacy, Global Featured, News by Brian Shepherd

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) supports and applauds the Colombian government’s decision to utilize a compulsory license to import cheaper generic versions of ViiV Healthcare’s HIV treatment dolutegravir. The country spends 50 times more on the brand-name drug than the Pan American Health Organization pays for a generic version.

“We fully support and thank Colombia in its bid to be able to access cheaper HIV medicines for its people, as well as helping thousands of Venezuelans who travel across the border for lifesaving antiretroviral treatment for HIV,” said Dr. Patricia Campos, Bureau Chief for AHF’s Latin America and the Caribbean Bureau. “We also stand with the 120-plus civil society organizations that signed a petition to Colombia Minister of Health Dr. Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo urging him to approve this declaration. Thousands more people will now have a chance at living a healthy life with increased access to dolutegravir. We hope more countries follow suit in using compulsory licenses as it accomplishes two things: It gets effective, affordable medicines to their people and sends a loud message to big pharma, that they should not prioritize profits before people by pricing medicines out of reach for many who need them.”

AHF praises Colombia´s government for putting health above pharmaceutical interests, irrespective of the country’s political situation. In 2012, a Bogotá court found that Abbott Laboratories violated a 2009 government order on drug pricing, stating that Abbott priced its essential HIV treatment Kaletra 350% higher than in neighboring countries. This abuse of Abbott’s monopoly on the drug market led to a fight for a compulsory license for Kaletra, ultimately giving Colombians access to the medicine at an affordable price.

AHF opened a clinic in Cúcuta, Colombia, in September 2018 at a critical border crossing with Venezuela to support people living with HIV among the thousands of refugees fleeing the country. Without reliable access to antiretroviral therapy, Venezuelans living with HIV risk dying or developing drug resistance due to treatment interruptions in their home country.

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