Colombia, pursuing healthcare savings, plots compulsory license for ViiV's HIV drug dolutegravir

After sparring with GSK’s ViiV Healthcare over the price of its HIV medication dolutegravir, Colombia appears to be taking matters into its own hands.

Colombian authorities on Tuesday said they plan to issue a compulsory license for the drug, which goes by the name Tivicay on its own or as Dovato when combined with other therapeutics.

The idea behind the compulsory license is to allow the Colombian government to purchase cheaper, generic versions of dolutegravir through the Pan American Health Organization, Spanish-language news outlet El Espectador reported this week.

Compulsory licensing allows national authorities to license a third party to produce a patented product, effectively enabling production of a generic before the drug’s original patent expires, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The policy was designed—and has historically been used—to improve access to essential meds in low-income countries during public health crises, the NIH adds.

ViiV did not immediately respond to Fierce Pharma’s request for comment on the situation.

A company spokesperson told Stat that ViiV “is aware of and acknowledges the resolution from the Ministry of Health.” The company is considering how best to respond and is making efforts to engage with the Colombian government to find a potential solution, ViiV told the publication.

The dolutegravir scenario echoes a prior pricing standoff between Colombia and Novartis over the Swiss pharma’s leukemia med Gleevec. Back in 216, Colombia said it planned to cut the price of Gleevec, also known as imatinib, by about 45%, citing “public interest” in access to the drug.

That move came months after initial reports that Colombia was considering a compulsory license to extract savings.

Colombian officials made the same “public interest” argument in this week’s dolutegravir decision.