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Colombian government forces through near half-price cut of Novartis drug

pharmafile | December 21, 2016 | News story | Medical Communications, Sales and Marketing Colombia, Novartis 

The Colombian government has lowered the price of Glivec (imatinib) by 44%, a cancer drug made by Novartis. The case has been an on-going dispute dating back four years when Colombia first denied Novartis a patent on Glivec. The intervening years has seen a lot of bluster back and forth between the company and the government, which has culminated in the action by Colombian health minister, Alejandro Gavria, to lower the price of Glivec.

Novartis is legally obliged to sell the medicine at the price stipulated by the Columbian health minister. Colombia controlling the price which they are prepared to for a drug could see similar decisions take place in different countries, heavily impacting profits of the pharmaceutical industry. Novartis has previously hinted, in the confrontation with the country, that it would consider legal action against the generic makers of the drug in the country if the price was reduced.

Colombia had a particularly strong case for wanting to change the price of the drug. It had been charged higher prices in comparison to high-income European nations with several other drugs produced by Novartis. Exforge blood pressure medication was sold at $92.87 per 30 tablets compared with $43.84 in Germany and $36.04 in the UK. Similar pricing disparity was in evidence in pricing of Tegretol, which was anywhere from 50% to 1,100% more expensive in Colombia in comparison with other countries.

Update:

Novartis has announced that it will contest the decision by filing an annulment action.

Ben Hargreaves

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