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About the Atazanavir Campaign

About the Atazanavir Campaign

A campaign to obtain a compulsory license on an important and expensive HIV medication in Peru

On November 17, 2014, public health activists in Peru sent a letter to the Peruvian president, Ollanta Humala, and the Peruvian Ministry of Health requesting that the president issue a compulsory license on atazanavir, an important, second-line HIV drug on which Bristol-Myers Squibb currently holds patents in Peru. The grant of a compulsory license on this medication would save the Peruvian government 26 million nuevo soles (roughly USD $9 million) in 2015 alone. Furthermore, the grant of this license could save Peru about USD $44 million over the course of the next few years, until Bristol-Myers Squibb’s expires in 2019. Because atazanavir currently accounts for 50% of the Peruvian government’s HIV/AIDS budget, these savings would be extremely valuable: Peru could redirect these funds toward the purchase of other medications its population cannot afford, new hospital facilities and equipment, and patient care.

After sending this compulsory license request to the Peruvian Ministry of Health and president, civil society organizations filed a motion in court in January, asking a trial judge to compel the Ministry of Health to reply to their compulsory license request. The court sought further documentation from these civil society groups (which they submitted in March), and has yet to issue a ruling.

Nevertheless, a recent article in Peru’s La Republica newspaper indicates that Minister of Health, Aníbal Velásquez, has actually signed a decree declaring atazanavir to be in the public interest and issuing a compulsory license on the patents associated with atazanavir. The article reported that this decree has languished on the Minister’s desk for two months because Peru’s Ministry of Economy as well as Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism have opposed the compulsory license.

Civil society groups continue to oppose the position of the Ministries of Economy and Commerce, and support the issuance of a compulsory license on atazanavir.

RedGE: Why a compulsory license for the antiretroviral atazanavir is important in Peru (en español)