Roche Will Provide Fuzeon (HIV/AIDS drug) For Free

Intellectual Property Left (IP Left) of Korea made a statement on Roche’s Compassionate Programme of Fuzeon for HIV/AIDS Patients in South Korea.

A Brief Chronicle

  • Fuzeon (generic name Enfuvirtide) is an HIV fusion inhibitor.
  • The development of Fuzeon was originated at at Duke University. The researchers formed a pharmaceutical company known as Trimeris and entered into a partnership with Hoffmann-La Roche to complete the development of the drug.
  • FDA Approval – March 13, 2003, as the first HIV fusion inhibitor.
  • Patent No.
    • 5464933 (Synthetic peptide inhibitors of HIV transmission)
      • Inventors: Dani P. Bolognesi, Thomas J. Matthews, Carl T. Wild
      • Assignee: Duke University
      • Filing Date: June 7, 1993.
    • 6133418 (Synthetic peptide inhibitors of HIV transmission)
      • Inventors: Dani P. Bolognesi, Thomas J. Matthews, Carl T. Wild
      • Assignee: Duke University
      • Filing Date: November 6, 1995
    • 6475491 (Treatment of HIV and other viral infections using combinatorial therapy)
      • Inventors: M. Ross Johnson, Dennis Michale Lambert
      • Assignee: Trimeris, Inc.
      • Filing Date: May 29, 1998
      • PCT Filing Date; June 06, 1996
      • PCT No.: PCT/US96/09499

‘491 Patent is on treatment methodology of HIV and other viral infections using Fuzeon. It’s worth noting that the U.S. is almost the only nation which grants patent on treatment or surgery methods. The U.S. has requested its counterparts in most Free Trade Agreement negotiations to incorporate the protection of treatment/surgery methods under their patent regimes, in most cases to no avail.

  • December 23, 2008
    • IP Left and other civic movement groups held a press conference to announce their intent to file a request (with the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office) for compulsory license on Fuzeon.
      • As a procedural matter, the Commissioner of the Korean Intellectual Property Office has the authority decide on requests for compulsory license.
  • February 25, 2009
    • Roche informed IP Left and other related civic movement groups of their plan to provide Fuzeon in Korea under the Compassionate Programme.

Belowe is the statement by Korean PLWHA (which seems like a contigent organization of various patients groups) and Civil Society.

Korean PLWHA and Civil Society Statement on Roche’s Compassionate Programme of Fuzeon for HIV/AIDS Patients in South Korea

Fuzeon is an essential medicine for HIV/AIDS treatment, but since 2005 Roche has been withholding the distribution of the drug in Korea. We, PLWHA and AIDS activists around the world have been protested against Roche’s murderous policy. However, Roche’s only response was that they would not supply Fuzeon until the South Korean government accepts the unreasonably high price of Fuzeon. To solve this problem, Korea HIV/AIDS Network of Solidarity and Intellectual Property Left requested a compulsory license of Fuzeon in December 2008.

In February 25 2009, Roche surprisingly informed their plan to provide Fuzeon in Korea under Compassionate Programme. Considering the patients’ severe pain and loss due to the absence of medicine, we welcome Roche’s decision and value it as an important step for improving access to AIDS treatment.

It is a significant change compared to the Roche’s previous position who has alleged that poor patients in poor country have no right to access Fuzeon. Undoubtedly, the Roche’s compensation program is resulted from the worldwide actions and public pressure organized by diverse groups in Korean civil society and world AIDS communities. However, the program suggested by Roche is still far from fulfilling the request of PLWHA and AIDS activists.

First of all, Roche notify that they introduce the compassionate program “as a temporary measure until a more sustainable solution for access in South Korea could be found,” because Roche cannot distribute the Fuzeon though the Korean national health care system. But, it is evident that Roche is the one who have blocked the distribution of the drug through the regular system. The main reason of Roche’s withholding the drug is that Korean government did not accept the price as the same level as the advanced seven countries. We point out that Roche’s new program is a just temporal measure and the essential problem of Fuzeon is still remained.

Secondly, we conclude that Roche’s compassionate program is a strategic and calculative action aiming the incapacitating of compulsory licensing. PLWHA and activists in Korea requested a compulsory licensing of Fuzeon in December 2008 to stop the Roche’s life threatening policy. Through a Novatis’s Gleevec case, we already watched how the multinational drug company abused the compassionate program. In the Gleevec case, Novatis refused the price approved by Korean government and disregarded the legitimate and regular channel for drug distribution. Multinational drug companies including Novatis have been using the deceitful tactics to influence patients for the purpose of increasing their negotiating power in the drug pri! ! cing process. As the result of this abused program, the price of Gleevec is still high. If Roche keep avoid the regular drug distribution s! ystem in Korea, the new compassionate program is nothing but a fraudulent measure to secure their profit.

We demand a public apology from Roche for their fraudulent practices and profiteering in Korea. It is undeniable that Roche have neglected the supply of essential medicine to Korean AIDS patients over the 4 years even though Roche insist that they take their “role to improve access to medicines very seriously”. There is no apology for the suffering and death Roche had caused to PLWHA in Korea and around the world.

We also strongly urge Roche to seek a fundamental solution for the immediate needs of drugs instead of abusing a temporal expedient. Roche already admitted that they had no ability to produce enough Fuzeon to meet the demands of PLWHA all over the world. Because of the patent on Fuzeon, no one can start the production of generic form of it and numerous PLWHA around the world have been denied access to the drug. Roche must renounce to its patent on Fuzeon and voluntarily issue technology transfer. This is the only solution to make Fuzeon available for everyone.

March 4, 2009.

Korea HIV/AIDS Network of Solidarity / Nanuri+, HIV/AIDS Human Rights Advocacy Group of Korea / Public Pharmaceutical Center / Solidarity for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Human Rights of Korea / Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights Group / Sarangbang, Group for Human Rights / Health Right Network / Korean Federation of Medical Groups for Health Rights / Association of Korea Doctors for Health Rights / Association of Physicians for Humanism / Korea Dentists Association for Health Society / Korea Health and Medical Workers Union / Korean Pharmacists for Democratic Society / People’s Solidarity for Social Progress / Intellectual Property Left / Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet / Korea Leukemia Patient Group / Solidarity for New Progressive Party

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2 thoughts on “Roche Will Provide Fuzeon (HIV/AIDS drug) For Free

  1. […] Free Fuzeon For How Long? Posted in Patent by iplawyer on March 12th, 2009 Continuing from Roche Will Provide Fuzeon (HIV/AIDS drug) For Free. […]

  2. alice says:

    Attn: Hospital in charge, doctor, all staff & AIDS patient (please
    widely give it to your friend)

    Eating very peppery fresh chili after eating AIDS
    medicine one hour later can exert power of medicine up
    to many times without damaging
    human’s health

    I am the chairman of National promotion of Buddhism, vegetable food
    and prevention of cancer association. I have discovered that eating
    very peppery fresh chili after eating AIDS, swine flu and
    SARS, etc
    medicine one hour later can exert power of medicine up to many times
    without damaging
    human’s health. The amount of chili can be maximum but not excess.
    Our association address http://www.buddhism-food-cancer.org.hk

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