Indonesia has shown that countries can and should take action to enable the production of low-cost versions of essential life-saving medicines for their citizens.

Michelle Childs, Director of Policy Advocacy for the MSF Access Campaign.

On 3 September, the Government of Indonesia issued a ‘government use’ decree - a type of compulsory licence that lifts a patent restriction on generic production - on seven drugs used to treat HIV and Hepatitis B. The drugs which are subject to the orders include efavirenz, abacavir, tenofovir, lopinavir/ritonavir, didanosine, and fixed-dose combinations tenofovir/emtricitabine and tenofovir/emtricitabine/efavirenz.  

The Presidential decree, if implemented fully, will allow for local generic production of the medicines - which will open up competition, and could significantly reduce prices - while each of the innovator companies will be paid a royalty of half a percent. There are 310,000 people living with HIV in Indonesia.

"Indonesia has set an important precedent, not just for the people living with HIV within its country, who have been campaigning for this, but also for other developing countries", said Ms. Childs. "This is one of the widest licences issued by a government and rightly reflects the reality that a range of treatment options are needed."

"As medicines for HIV and Hepatitis B are increasingly under patent in developing counties, Indonesia has shown that countries can and should take action to enable the production of low-cost versions of essential life-saving medicines for their citizens. The next step is full implementation of the decree. Other countries faced with blocks on access to generic medicines should consider following Indonesia’s lead", Ms. Childs added.

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