According to Pedro Chequer, the coordinator of Brazil’s Sexually Transmitted Disease/Aids program, the country may break patents with pharmaceutical companies and manufacture generic versions of up to a total of five brand name retroviral drugs.
“There is a concrete possibility that we will break patents under existing international agreements. And we now have the technical capacity to begin manufacturing next year. We will be able to deal with the manufacturing process all the way from the molecular level to the finished product,” he said.
However, Chequer refused to specifiy which AIDS drugs, out of the eight Brazil presently has to import, could have their patents broken.
He also did not disclose the amount of money Brazil was spending on research, but he did say that the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), along with laboratories in both the public and private sectors, were running studies on the country’s capabilities with the objective of eventually creating a new reality with new perspectives in the pharmaceutical area.
“What this means is that besides the seven AIDS drugs we already make generic versions of, we will expand our production capacity significantly with another three to five generic versions of other brand name drugs,” said Chequer.
The justification for breaking patents, explained Chequer, is that Brazil is forced to spend too much on imported AIDS drugs which could be made domestically in public or private labs.
He points out that around 80% of his budget (some US$ 165 million or R$ 450 million) goes to paying for the importation of only seven drugs that are used in treating AIDS.
Brazil’s Sexually Transmitted Disease/AIDS program, as part of the Brazilian public health network (SUS), supplies approximately 150,000 HIV-positive patients with 15 drugs free of charge to treat the disease and keep it under control.
Out of those 15 drugs, seven are now produced in Brazil in generic versions and the remaining eight are imported. Among the eight imported drugs is the newest in the so-called AIDS cocktail, Aazanavir, which is made in the United States by Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Translator: Allen Bennett