Colombian Appeals Court: Ministry of Health violated health rights

On September 27, 2012, the Administrative Tribunal of Cundinamarca ruled that the Colombian Ministry of Health had violated collective rights to public health by not enforcing price regulations on the HIV/AIDS treatment, Kaletra, Abbott’s lopinavir+ritonavir. The judgment arises from the “Acción Popular”, analogous to a private attorney general lawsuit, filed by health groups in 2009 in order to obtain a compulsory license on Kaletra, inaugurate cost-cutting generic competition and improve Colombia’s health services. In February of this year, a lower court ruled that Abbott Laboratories and the Ministry of Health and Social Protection (MoH) threatened and violated collective rights to public health by maintaining the price of Kaletra above the reference price. Parties on both sides—the health groups and Abbott—appealed the decision to the Supreme Administrative Court. During this process, lawyers and civil society groups from around the world signed letters in support of the health groups' appeal that were sent to judges at the Supreme Administrative Court.

In 2008, the price of Kaletra in Colombia was about $3,600 per person per year. A civil society compulsory license campaign led directly to a regulation for public interest licensing, the reinstatement of parallel importation (shopping on the world market for best prices), and government-ordered Kaletra price reductions of 54-68%. Abbott resisted the price order. But continued civil society pressure, and a second government order eventually compelled Abbott to comply.

Today, Kaletra costs about $1,000 per patient per year. The civil society coalition continues to seek an open compulsory license through renewed administrative requests and other avenues in order to obtain the global low price of $400 and generic competition, which could reduce prices further still.