In Peru an estimated 66,000 people are living with HIV with less than half on antiretroviral treatment.

The problem

The price of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) is a major issue for Peru. The Peruvian government provides ARVs free of charge and has a constitutional obligation to use public funds effectively and sustainably. However, abusive monopolistic conditions prevent this.

In particular, Peru pays 20 times the price for atazanavir as its neighbor Bolivia, which uses a generic version. Due to the high cost, atazanavir comprises more than 50% of Peru’s budget on ARVs. Civil society groups and the public sector are pushing for action to reduce costs, but multinational corporations are resisting.

The background

Civil society organizations in Peru, including our partner Acción Internacional Para la Salud (AIS), have been instrumental in the negotiations on free-trade agreements (FTAs) with the United States and the European Union. A successful campaign stopped the inclusion of new intellectual property mechanisms, which threatened access to medicines.

These past actions and the lessons learned are proving useful in the current Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which Peru has signed up to. The Peruvian Congress has several initiatives in progress that would regulate pharmaceutical markets and prevent abuses by pharmaceutical companies. There is growing awareness among the public that essential medicines are too expensive in the country, and that government action is necessary to change this situation.

We believe that access to medicine is directly linked with the right to life. Therefore, affordable medicines should take precedence over any commercial interests and the government has an obligation to ensure access through national legislation.