Published: Monday 15 October 2001

The Brazilian government is planning to declare aids a national emergency. The country's health minister, Jose Serra, said the decision was made after negotiations to lower the price of nelfinavir, an aids drug manufactured by Hoffman-La Roche Incorporation, recently failed. The action is being taken under a legislation that permits domestic production of internationally patented drugs during national emergencies. Critics say that the Brazilian decision might be a ploy to bring Hoffman-La Roche back to the negotiating table. The company had offered to cut the drug's price by 13 per cent -- a figure dismissed by one Brazilian official as "price gouging with lives at stake."

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