Statement from Naïké Ledan, Health GAP Director of International Policy & Advocacy, on Colombia’s Historic Compulsory License for Dolutegravir
“Dolutegravir (DTG) is a lifesaving HIV treatment that can improve and extend the lives of people with HIV. DTG-based regimens are more effective and recommended by the World Health Organization as the preferred HIV treatment option in all populations, but its patent owner, ViiV, has priced the drug out of reach for too many health systems around the world, limiting access for far too many who need it. This is particularly true across Latin America, where ViiV’s monopoly means people living with HIV are denied the best available treatment regimen.
“Compulsory licenses exist in international law to overcome corporate greed and allow governments to take steps to prioritize the health and well-being of their people. Colombia’s decision to utilize compulsory licenses to produce or import generic versions of DTG and expand access in their country is a powerful example of how compulsory licensing can and must be used to protect people’s health. Colombia will be able to source from any qualified company, including generics licensed by the Medicines Patent Pool.
“Activists, academics, public health experts, and civil society organizations pushed for this first-ever compulsory license to be issued in Colombia, consistent with the terms of Colombia’s trade and investment agreements and international law and policy. This announcement is further proof of the power of activism and the important role compulsory licenses play in overcoming the stranglehold pharmaceutical companies have on people’s access to lifesaving medicines. We applaud the government of Colombia for taking this historic action and celebrate the Colombian-led international activism that helped deliver this victory for people living with HIV. The best option should be available to all. We urge other governments to urgently follow suit so that ViiV’s monopoly does not stand in the way of the lifesaving access people with HIV require.”