It is not the first time that we address the issue of the situation of antiretroviral medication in Peru. Several organizations and members of the Peruvian civil society have made clear the importance of a compulsory license which allows competition in the pharmaceutical market, and contribute to a price reduction, so treatment to more people with HIV could be expanded.
Both the Ministry of Health and the agency responsible for providing medical care to dependent employees, ESSALUD, are convinced of the vitality of using it; however, they must face false arguments that arise from other agencies such as the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Trade And Tourism, which are known for taking care of the interests of the multinational business sector, keeping away from the protection of the rights of citizens.
Some speculative and biased arguments have arisen such as Peru would be violating the TRIPS Agreement, which is completely false, since the agreement on aspects of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) provides in its 31st article the use of compulsory license.
We have probably also heard that a compulsory license would violate bilateral investment agreements and would represent an “expropriation”. It is also false, since the compulsory license is not an expropriation, because the patent holder holds the rights to this and receives royalties for this reason.
In recent weeks, some people have also highlighted that a compulsory license would drive away to the pharmaceutical industry and would limit new drug registration required by the country. This argument is not based on any evidence and contrary to the rationality of investments.
The Ministry of Health now has the technical tools and the political decision to move towards a compulsory license, but they will need to face other sectors of the Government who are against it. For this reason, it is important that not only organizations of Peru, but organizations of Latin America and the world express their support, so a compulsory license can be finally achieved.
Those who wish to support, can send communications to:
Minister of Health: Anibal Velásquez (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Deputy Minister of Public Health: Percy Minaya (email@example.com)