AbbVie, stop selling “soap bubbles” in the CEZA region!
On July 25, activists from the EECA region organized “Stop AbbVie, Fight For Life” march to protest against AbbVie’s monopoly pricing policy regarding Lopinavir / Ritonavir. The march took place during International Conference AIDS-2018.
While the improvement of access to antiretroviral therapy has led to a global reduction in AIDS mortality and new HIV-infections, in EECA AIDS-related mortality increased by 38% in the past decade while the annual number of new infections grew by 60% between 2010-2016. One of the contributing factors is significant treatment gap of 72% that exists in the EECA region.
Countries in the EECA region continue to pay some of the highest prices for ARV therapy among middle-income countries, while at the same ARV coverage remains pretty low. One of the major causes is high prices for antiretrovirals. Lopinavir/ritonavir remains on of the most expensive and burdensome products for HIV treatment programs in the EECA region – EECA countries’ annual spending on LPV/r amounts to 20- 50% of the HIV treatment budget.
The drug is under patent protection, and the price for it ranges from 60 to 80 US dollars per package, while the generic drug, as seen from the analysis of purchases in Kyrgyzstan, costs about $17 per package. South Africa, an upper middle income country (UMIC), pays AbbVie only $11,70 for one month treatment course of lopinavir/ritonavir 200/50 mg. In a number of countries – primarily Ukraine, the Russian Federation and Kyrgyzstan – reducing the price of lopinavir / ritonavir or replacing it with alternative drugs (dolutegravir, atazanavir, darunavir) in order to reduce budget spending and improve access to ARV therapy is one of the priority areas of work.
Sergii Dmytriiev, Policy and Advocacy Director, All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH: “AbbVie is the only company that prevents access to treatment in the EECA region . Only a few companies can “boast” of such rigid and merciless policy as AbbVie when it comes to the monopolistic pricing for lopinavir / ritonavir. We called for AbbVie to either lower prices for lopinavir or allow generic competition”
Despite petitions from community-based organizations to lower the price of LPV/r, the company continues to hold stable pricing policy in the EECA region for more than 5 years.
Sergii Kondratiuk, Legal Specialist on IP and Access to Medicines from All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH explains the main idea of the march: “To address the catastrophic situation with the lack of treatment in the region, we call on AbbVie to stop using patent monopolies on lopinavir/ ritonavir in the region and allow free competition among generic manufacturers in EECA countries!”
Activists from other countries of the world also joined the protest march. Activists rallied to Abbott’s both in the Exhibition pavilion where they condemned the company’s policy in middle-income countries, especially in the EECA region.
The All-Ukrainian Network of PLWH continues to advocate AbbVie patent annulment in Ukraine in the process of litigation.