For the first time in Colombia the Ministry of Health will issue a resolution that will allow the access to the drug Glivec (Imatinib) which is protected by a patent in Colombia.

This medicine is used to treat some cancer treatments, and according to the Ministry of Health, it’s price is expensive for the market and the multinational Novartis is the only one in the pharmaceutical industry that produces this drug in the country.

For this reason, the health minister, Alejandro Gaviria made the decision to propose to Novartis a price negotiation, stating that the maximum retail price be $140.000 (COP) per milligram of Imatinib, reducing its original price to half.

However, Novartis responded negatively to this proposal and therefore would not enter into negotiations with the Ministry of Health, arguing that the price of the drug has already been regulated by the government twice.

This was the cause of why the health minister decided to submit a resolution to declare the compulsory license, which will allow the generic competition to commercialized the drug on market and distribute it at a lower price.

This decision forces the patent authority in this case the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC), to enable the manufacture of a product without the owner’s permission.

The minister of health clarified that, ¨the title of the patent will continue to be valid, except that, given that need to protect the public interest, which it is one of the causes, the execution of that right is limited¨.

But Alvaro Ramirez Bonilla, our Founder and CEO, and Gustavo Morales, president of Afidro, a pharmaceutical association, disagree with the decision of the Ministry of Health.

This is Alvaro Ramirez opinion along with our legal team, ¨we believe that this situation is a struggle within the negotiations between the Ministry of Health and the pharmaceutical company Novartis to achieve a reduction in the price of the drug. The Colombian government has never used compulsory licenses and it is probably that it stays that way¨.  

On behalf of the pharmaceutical industry Gustavo Morales, said to El Tiempo (a Colombian journal) that, ¨Colombia have done an incredible progress regarding Intellectual Property, but a compulsory license without justification, like the one that the Ministry of Health announce will erase with the elbow all these achievements¨.  

Novartis haven’t pronounced yet their opinion and it is expected that next week the Ministry of Health issues the resolution.