Brazil Takes Step Toward Breaking AIDS Patents

Brazil has moved a step closer to breaking AIDS drugs patents by asking U.S. companies for the right to copy four products so the country can slash health costs, the government said on Tuesday. Brazil requested Merck & Co. Inc., Abbot Laboratories Inc. and Gilead Sciences Inc. to grant "voluntary licensing" of drug technology so it can keep its much-copied AIDS program afloat, the health ministry said. Brazil imports the four drugs used in its free, anti-AIDS cocktail. It wants to make copies and pay royalties. The products in question are Merck's Efavirenz, Abott's Lopinavir and Ritonavir, and Gilead's Tenofovir.

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