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April 23, 2010

Ecuador Grants First Compulsory Licence, For HIV/AIDS Drug

"Ecuador this month granted its first compulsory licence for a patented pharmaceutical since declaring last year that it would utilise international rules allowing it to do so.

"The move has already brought the country substantial savings due to new competition, according to the Ecuadorean intellectual property office. Other Latin American countries might be drawn to the prospect of reduced drug prices, according to advocates. The rights owner said it is disappointed with the decision.

"The compulsory licence was granted for ritonavir, an antiretroviral drug, on 14 April [2010] to Eskegroup SA, the local distributor for Cipla, an Indian generic pharmaceutical producer, according to Andrés Ycaza Mantilla, head of the Ecuadorean intellectual property office (IEPI).

"The owner of the patent is Abbott Laboratories, a US pharmaceutical manufacturer. Eskegroup will pay royalties to Abbott for using the licence under the term of the compulsory licence. The compulsory licence has been granted for the time that was left on the patent, until 30 November 2014."

Read more:, April 22, 2010.

Comment: In the U.S., Abbott became notorious for raising the price of ritonavir 400% on the night of December 3, 2003. Overnight, and entirely unexpectedly, the price for this drug became five times what it had been the day before. AIDS Treatment News learned about the increase when a patient called on December 4.