Brazil Withdraws Threat To Produce Generic AIDS Drug

RIO DE JANEIRO-The Brazilian government has reached a tentative deal with Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche to purchase the generic version of the AIDS drug Nelfinavir.

The South American country announced last week it would begin producing the drug in state-owned laboratories for sale January 1, 2002 because a deal had not been reached with the company. Brazil is one of the only countries in the world to guarantee treatment for all AIDS patients, including a free-of-charge program. Nelfinavir is part of the drug cocktail offered by the government for patients in need. They provided the drug to some 90,000 patients last year alone.

The Brazilian minister of health said the government was glad to have reached a deal with Roche, which will now sell the drug at a 40% reduced rate. The government will pay $35 million each year for the drug and ensure the company continued patent protection.

The Brazilian government had previously agreed to purchase other AIDS pharmaceuticals with New Jersey-based Merck after the company reduced rates of two medications by 70%.

The deal between the Brazilian government and Roche comes after 6 months of negotiations.

Brazil has the highest rate of AIDS infection in Latin America, with 210,5000 people infected.

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