Indonesia grants rights for companies to manufacture affordable antiretroviral medicines
The Indonesian government has issued compulsory licenses for the generic manufacture of seven different antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs used for the treatment of HIV and Hepatitis. According to Peter Maybarduk of the advocacy group, Public Citizen, the move “is the single broadest use of licensing powers for a country since the advent of the TRIPS agreement.”
Compulsory licenses provide an opportunity for low and middle-income countries to legally bypass the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). It is a government licence that enables someone other than the patent holder to copy patented products and processes without fear of prosecution. However because of the complicated nature of the licensing system, and often the subsequent backlash from pharmaceutical companies, few countries have taken advantage of the opportunity.
Indonesia has the fastest growing epidemic in Asia, with around 314,000 people living with HIV. This number has risen sharply in recent years and is expected to more than double by 2014 if approaches to HIV prevention and treatment are not improved. The move by the Indonesian government marks a bold step in scaling-up treatment options, with reportedly every ARV needed in Indonesia now being given a compulsory license. These include newer and more expensive second-line drugs such as Kaletra (Lopinavir + Ritonavir) and Atripla (Efavirenz + Emtricitabine + Tenofovir). The government stated that the pharmaceutical companies will receive 0.5% in royalties.