lucarista /
13 June 2016Americas

Colombia forces Novartis to reduce cancer drug price

Colombia’s government will set a new price for Novartis’s cancer drug Gleevec (imatinib) following a recent dispute.

Due to the public need for the drug, produced by the Swiss company, the health regulator of Colombia will be given the privilege of setting a lower price for Gleevec.

The two parties did not reach an agreement in their negotiations, which resulted with Alejandro Gaviria, the Colombian health minister, declaring the need for a compulsory licence.

A Novartis spokesperson said in a statement: "We have consistently said declarations of public interest (DPI) and compulsory licences are important and legitimate tools whose use is limited to exceptional circumstances. This is simply not the case with Gleevec in Colombia. There are no shortages and the universal healthcare system means all patients who need Gleevec receive it. We also do not have a monopoly as non-infringing generic versions of imatinib are available."

The spokesperson added: "In these circumstances, imposing a DPI to force involuntary price controls is inappropriate and unwarranted. It also undermines Colombia’s domestic and international commitments to the rule of law."

Novartis is in a position where it will be legally obliged to sell the cancer treatment at the new price.

The current patent for Gleevec is valid until mid-2018 and the price of the drug per milligram is $44, while the government requested the price be reduced to $18.50.

“The negotiations have definitively broken down,” Gaviria, the health minister, reportedly said at a conference in Cartagena.

He added: “What that entails is declaring public interest with the principal objective of unilaterally fixing a price.”

The drug is used by approximately 2,500 people in Colombia.

The Novartis spokesperson concluded: "Until we receive official confirmation from the Colombian authorities regarding the conclusion of our discussions, we will make no further comment."

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at