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Brazil Irks Merck

The country breaks the patent on the HIV medication Stocrin.


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said the government of Brazil has broken its patent on the HIV medication Stocrin, a move that will allow generic versions to enter the country and compete with the name-brand drug.

Regulators in the South American nation issued a compulsory license for the first time on Friday, which gives Brazil the ability to manufacture or buy a generic copy of the Merck product.

Such a license is legal in health emergencies or if the pharmaceutical industry's pricing is considered to be too high, according to Brazilian laws. The country does have to pay Merck a small royalty.

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Brazil wanted Merck to sell Stocrin for 65 cents a pill, according to the


, but the New Jersey-based drugmaker was only willing to go to $1.10.

"This expropriation of intellectual property sends a chilling signal to research-based companies about the attractiveness of undertaking risky research on diseases that affect the developing world, potentially harming patients who may require new and innovative life-saving therapies," Merck said.

Additionally, the company said it hopes the government of Brazil will reconsider its stance. Brazil's health ministry plans to import a generic version of Stocrin from India, paying about 45 cents a pill.