Abbott Laboratories is reportedly set to slash the price of its anti-HIV drug, Kaletra (lopinavir/ ritonavir), in Brazil after the company faced the wrath of the government. The Ministry of Health had threatened to sidestep Abbott’s patents and order the manufacture of Kaletra by generic firms unless the company gave in to its demands – a move known as compulsory licensing.

The Brazilian government currently purchases Kaletra directly from Abbott, and distributes it for free to patients infected with HIV and who have gone on to develop AIDS. Health Ministry spokesperson, Ana Lucia Wenke, told Bloomberg News that Abbott will cut the cost per tablet from $1.17 to $0.63, saving the country almost $340 million between 2006-2009.

Brazil had reached an earlier agreement with Abbott to reduce the price of Kaletra to $0.99 per pill, but the entry into government of a new Health Minister – Saraiva Felipe – saw this deal back on the negotiating table [[11/07/05d]], [[01/07/05d]]. The government had argued that local manufacturers could produce Kaletra for 41 cents per tablet.