The leaders of Argentina and Brazil speaking during the Mercosur summit in Paraguay, suggested Friday, July 25, that developing countries should be allowed to lift patent rights so they can produce more vaccines to battle the swine flu, the A/H1N1 virus flu pandemic.
"It would be very advantageous to propitiate a kind of lifting or suspension of the patents law because the World Health Organization has recognized that we're dealing with an epidemic," Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said in her main speech to Mercosur leaders.
Failing to act could mean "condemning millions of people to death" while "suspending" the patents law could save millions of lives, added the Argentine president.
"I hope this won't be misconstrued because I'm not talking about disavowing patent law," underlined Mrs. Kirchner adding that " I'm saying that given this unprecedented pandemic recognized by the WHO, many times some laboratories cannot keep up with world demand for vaccines."
However according to Brazilian news agency reports, the President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was more direct and proposed that leaders discuss breaking the patents law to help contain theÂ swine flu pandemic.
The official Brazilian government news agency said Health Minister José Gomes Temporão is negotiating with all vaccine producers to boost the vaccine's availability. "Brazil is willing to defend the health security of its population," the minister was quoted.
Brazil has been successful in recent years in convincing pharmaceutical companies to offer discounts on HIV medication. In 2007 the Brazilian government issued a compulsory license to break the patent on an antiretroviral AIDS drug made by US pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co.
Mrs. Kirchner said Argentina and Brazil both have highly developed pharmaceutical industries and should be able to produce vaccine "that wouldn't be free," Argentina's state news agency, Telam, reported.
"But," Telam quoted the president as saying, "it's beyond question that we're confronting a situation in which the needs of millions of people cannot be subordinated to economic interests."
This week it was announced in Buenos Aires that the local Malbran Institute research laboratory had been successful in discovering the dominant flu strain genome in Argentina, which does not have significant differences with the one detected in other parts of the world, which was described as a "very important revelation" because it will help laboratories to advance in the manufacturing of drugs to fight the disease.