A critical cancer drug will now be 44% cheaper in Colombia after a government ruling that will legally mandate a new price. Novartis will now be forced to sell its leukemia and cancer treatment imatinib, which the Swiss drugmaker sells under the name brands Glivec or Gleevec, at the drastically lower rate after negotiations with the country’s Ministry of Health and Social Protection proved unable to reach a mutually agreeable price.
The agency said that tablets of 400 milligrams will now cost 82,568 pesos (or $27.55 USD at the current exchange rate). Each pill previously sold for 147,200 pesos ($49.11). The change may come into force in as little as 30 days.
The Health Ministry’s case for altering the price is rooted in the fact that imatinib was not formally protected by a patent in the country for nearly a decade earlier this century yet still existed in the market without competition.
“The decision taken by the national government will allow the Novartis laboratory — owner of the Glivec patent — to maintain the monopoly in the market, but with a regulated price that simulates conditions of competition between the original molecule and its generic,” said the ministry in a statement.
The case was brought forward by a protocol developed to allow the nation’s National Commission of Prices of Medicines and Medical Devices to review medical costs in specific circumstances. It looked at situations in 17 other countries while attempting to set a new price for imatinib in Colombia, according to the agency.
“The price definition followed the methodology developed by the commission to regulate prices in exceptional situations in which the public interest has been declared,” said the Ministry of Health in statement.
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