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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23478. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023478. Epub 2011 Aug 15.

Modeling HIV/AIDS drug price determinants in Brazil: is generic competition a myth?

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  • 1Economic and Social Sciences, Health Systems and Society (SE4S), UMR 912 (INSERM, IRD, Aix-Marseille University), Marseille, France.



Brazil became the first developing country to guarantee free and universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) being delivered to nearly 190,000 patients. The analysis of ARV price evolution and market dynamics in Brazil can help anticipate issues soon to afflict other developing countries, as the 2010 revision of the World Health Organization guidelines shifts demand towards more expensive treatments, and, at the same time, current evolution of international legislation and trade agreements on intellectual property rights may reduce availability of generic drugs for HIV care.


Our analyses are based on effective prices paid for ARV procurement in Brazil between 1996 and 2009. Data panel structure was exploited to gather ex-ante and ex-post information and address various sources of statistical bias. In-difference estimation offered in-depth information on ARV market characteristics which significantly influence prices. Although overall ARV prices follow a declining trend, changing characteristics in the generic segment help explain recent increase in generic ARV prices. Our results show that generic suppliers are more likely to respond to factors influencing demand size and market competition, while originator suppliers tend to set prices strategically to offset compulsory licensing threats and generic competition.


In order to guarantee the long term sustainability of access to antiretroviral treatment, our findings highlight the importance of preserving and stimulating generic market dynamics to sustain developing countries' bargaining power in price negotiations undertaken with originator companies.

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