A joint statement released by the health ministry and Abbott to reduce the price of Kaletra in Thailand to increase access to the drug among HIV-positive people who have developed resistance to other antiretrovirals.
The lower price will apply only to Thailand’s public health programs and will not apply to private hospitals, people with high incomes or foreign patients. Suvit Wibulpolprasert, a senior health ministry adviser on health economics, said Abbott would look into the possibility of reducing production costs to lower the price of Kaletra.
Public Health Minister Mongkol na Songkhla last month signed the compulsory license, which allows Thailand to produce a lower-cost version of Kaletra, into law. World Trade Organization regulations allow governments to declare a “national emergency” and issue compulsory licenses without consulting the foreign patent owner. Thailand, which has 580,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, has won international recognition for its quick launch of a national drug program that treats more than 82,000 HIV-positive people. However, the government’s commitment to providing universal access to care is facing increasingly high drug costs.
Kaletra currently costs about $347 per patient monthly, and the lower-priced version could cost about $120 per patient monthly, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres. The compulsory license could save the country as much as $24 million annually.