Brazil takes a step towards patent exemption for HIV drugs.

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Patents have to be suspended if they are harming public health”, jubilantly declared Roberto Gouveia, a ruling party deputy, after a bill he had introduced in Brazil’s lower house was convincingly approved last week. The bill exempts all HIV/AIDS drugs and their manufacturing processes from patent coverage and is considered a key landmark in the struggle for access to antiretroviral drugs. The step, says Pedro Chequer, head of Brazil’s AIDS programme, proves the Brazilian government and civil society’s “clear dissatisfaction” with the unfair management of intellectual property, mainly in the pharmaceutical sector. Beyond this, it offers an example to other developing countries of how “to prove the sovereignty of public health”, he said. However, it is not clear if the proposed law would apply to both future and existing patents, or to future patents alone. “This is a very crucial issue. We do not know for sure yet, but our expectation is that it will free all patented antiretroviral drugs in Brazil—existing as well as future— from patent coverage”, Chequer said. “This is [also] the understanding of some congressmen I have talked to.” (excerpt)

Publication (Name of Journal)

Lancet Infectious Diseases