On March 9, 2018, the Chile Ministry of Health issued two documents outlining its decision to recommend a compulsory license on hepatitis C virus (HCV) drug patents. The hepatitis C virus can lead to cancer of the liver and other serious and life threatening health issues. The new drugs to treat HCV are effective for many patients, but in many countries are so expensive that access is limited. When patent barriers are overcome, affordable generic versions of the drugs are available, and treatment access is dramatically improved.

Dr. Gilberto Lopes, a member of UACT and also of the UACT Expert Advisory Board offered this statement in support of the Chile Ministry of Health action:

“By taking a concrete step to advance a compulsory license on patents on hepatitis C drugs, the Ministry of Health in Chile is taking action that will lead to lower prices and more access for patients, in this case, preventing preventable cases of liver cancer as well as other hepatitis C related illnesses.”

Gilberto de Lima Lopes Junior, MD, MBA, FAMS
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
Medical Director for International Programs
Associate Director for Global Oncology
Co-Leader, Lung Cancer Site Disease Group
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the
University of Miami and the Miller School of Medicine

Also commenting on the action is UACT member chair of the Expert Advisory Board, Ellen ‘t Hoen:

“Chili is joining a growing number of high income countries that are exploring the use of compulsory licensing to respond to the unsustainable drug pricing by pharma. From HIV and HCV we know that compulsory licensing of patents is an effective mechanism. Chili should be applauded for addressing the drug pricing crisis head on and for protecting the health of its people.”

Ellen ’t Hoen, LLM
Medicines Law & Policy

UACT Acting Director Manon Ress also commented on the action

“UACT is pleased that the Ministry has issued a finding that there are no patents in Chile on the prostate cancer drug enzalutamide, a finding that will lead to the introduction of affordable generic versions of this life extending and life saving drug. Governments need to provide better information about the patent landscape for cancer drugs, so that patients can benefit from access to affordable generic versions when patents have not been filed or granted in their country. Willy Pino Cataldo, one of the patients in Chile who was advocating for a compulsory license, died in July before he could access enzalutamide. Others now will have better access to this drug.”

Dr. Manon Ress. Founder and Acting Director of the Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT).