Brazil Lost Credibility by Threatening to Break Patents and Never Doing It

The costs to Brazil would have been greater if, over the course of time, the country had not developed the AIDS treatment and prevention program, commented the deputy director of the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s National Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS (STD/AIDS) Program, Carlos Passarelli.

"With the introduction of treatment at the beginning of the decade of the 1990’s and its intensification in 1996, we can observe a significant reduction in the health system’s mortality and morbidity indices, which means that fewer people required hospitalization, thus saving on government expenses," Passarelli said in an interview with the National Radio.

Regarding the strategy adopted during a certain period by Brazil to compel the breaking of patents or compulsory licensing (transferring the original production license to another manufacturer), the director explained that this approach was important for a time, but the measure was never actually enforced.

"This constitutes a very serious problem to the extent that the government lost some of its credibility for not carrying out the threat, although it would have been able to do so."

According to Passarelli, negotiating with laboratories is a strategy that the federal government continues to employ and through which significant discounts have been obtained.

"We just received a discount of around 50% for one of the medications, a cocktail."

He went on to say that the country’s capacity still needs to be expanded and reinforced, because there is some lingering doubt regarding the capacity of national laboratories to manufacture the medications.

"It is important to make it clear that compulsory licensing is a means, not an end."

Agência Brasil

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