FDAnews Drug Daily Bulletin

AIDS Groups File Complaint Over Merck AIDS Drug Access in South Africa

Nov. 15, 2007

Two AIDS activist groups filed a complaint in South Africa against Merck, claiming the company does not grant enough licenses to generic companies to sell its AIDS drug Stocrin.

Merck’s actions have prevented access to cheaper, generic versions of Stocrin (efavirenz), according to a complaint filed by the AIDS Law Project and the Treatment Action Campaign in the Competition Commission of South Africa. The company has violated South Africa’s Competition Act, the groups say.

Merck has licensed only two companies to import, manufacture or sell generic efavirenz products, the complaint says. However, the licenses do not allow the companies to create combination AIDS products containing efavirenz. The groups say this hinders patients’ access to complete treatment and threatens the sustainability of the efavirenz product supply in South Africa.

Merck sells Stocrin at its best international price, $394.20 per adult per year for 200-mg doses, in South Africa. The lowest price for generic efavirenz is $185 per adult per year for 200-mg doses.

The complaint requests a compulsory license but does not specify the terms.

The groups’ complaint can be seen at www.wcl.american.edu/pijip/documents/complaint.pdf?rd=1.