By Giulia Paravicini, Politico| Sept 19, 2016
Italy’s biggest doctors association Fnomceo wants the government to make available generic versions of pricey hepatitis c drugs so more patients can have access to them.
“We want to make these drugs available for everyone as well as sustainable for the national health care system,” Fnomceo said in a document published after the group’s national council meeting, which took place over the weekend.
Doctors say Italy can have a generic drugmaker produce a copycat under “compulsory licensing,” a power allowed under the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, known as the TRIPS agreement, under certain conditions.
U.S.-based Gilead’s Sovaldi was the first in a new class of hepatitis C treatments that can cure the disease — but also come with a price tag in the thousands of euros per treatment course. Its introduction help reignite a global debate over drug costs and the sustainability of health systems.
Globally, about 400 million people are infected with hepatitis B and C, more than 10 times the number of people living with HIV, according to the World Health Organization. An estimated 1.45 million people died of the disease in 2013 – up from less than a million in 1990.
The call from Italian doctors comes a week after the United Nations released a much awaited report calling for countries to more boldly use the TRIPs authority to bypass patents when patients cannot get access to life saving medicines.
The doctors said it is “not ethically acceptable” that the market economy is impeding access to the drugs for thousands of citizens.