Published: Sunday 15 April 2001

Unlike sub-Saharan African countries, Brazil will not get discounts on two Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (aids) drugs that us-based Merck and Co Incorporation is planning to offer. "The discount on crixivan and stocrin is not applicable to Brazil," said Marcos Levy, director of corporate affairs at Merck's Brazil unit. Responding to this, the Brazilian government has announced that it will violate Merck's patent and start producing at least one of those drugs by June 2001, if the prices are not lowered. The country has a law that allows it to manufacture aids drugs, even if it means revoking patents, because of which it has invited the wrath of the pharmaceutical industry.

Brazil suffers from a high rate of aids infection. So far, 190,000 cases have been registered, but the treatment is very expensive for most Brazilians.

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